October 2002 Draft of the McManamans of Achill Island



I.                 The Meaning of the MacMeanman Surname and Origin in Tir Conaill

II.               Tir Conaill and the Ui’ Neill: 400-800 A.D.

a.     The Irish Preservation of Classical Knowledge: 400-500 A.D.

b.     The Irish Transmission of Knowledge, St. Colum Cille

III.             800 A.D. to 1169: Viking Raiders and Occupation

IV.            1200’s-1303: The Development of the O’Donnell-McManaman Clerics and Warriors

V.              1303-1482 A.D.: McManamans in the O’Donnell Clerical Dynasty

VI.            1482-1602 A.D.: Continued Support for the O’Donnells and Opposition to the Elizabethan Plantation.

a.     The Tudors attempt to extend their reach beyond the Pale: 1509-1558

b.     1558 A.D.: Elizabeth I Ascends to the English Throne

c.     Elizabethan Plantation

VII.          Rebellion and The Flight of the Earls: 1601-1607

a.     The Rebellion and the Battle of Kinsale 1601

b.     The Defeat of Tyrone 1601 – 1603

c.     1602 – 1607:  The Fall of Sovereignty and Flight to the Continent.

VIII.        1607-1650:  Plantations

a.     O'Doherty's Rebellion 1607 – 1609

b.     The Printed Book 1610

c.     Charles I and Ireland 1625 – 1641

d.     O'Neill and Monro 1642 – 1646

e.     The Rebellion Crushed 1646 – 1650

IX.            Cromwellian Settlement 1650 – 1660

a.     McManaman Flight to Mayo

b.     McManamans That Stayed in Donegal

X.              Migration to Achill

a.     Donegal, Ballycroy, Innishbiggle, and Achill

b.     Achill Island, County Mayo

c.     Continued Oppression: The Penal Laws

d.     The Famine

e.     The Mission

XI.            1862-1883: Early McManaman Emigration and the Land Wars.

a.     Raising The Family in The Valley.

b.     Land Wars and Free Migration to the USA.

XII.          Early American Experience: Cleveland, Ohio and Lincoln, Nebraska

XIII.        Following the Railroad to Spalding, Greeley County, Nebraska







October 2002 Draft of the

McManamans of Achill Island




This October 2002 draft version is intended to outline the history, setting, and people related to the development of the McManaman surname, the relationship between the McManaman family and the kings of the region over several hundred years, and the effects of the English efforts at domination of Ireland, including the resulting migrations of the family within Ireland, and eventually to the United States of America from Achill Island, Mayo.  Specific family groups are not described in this text beyond the original immigrants from Achill, and an outline of their initial activities in the Untied States.  Efforts to collect and preserve that information continue, however, and will be developed into narrative form later, so contributions and inquiries are welcome. 


            Sister Bridget (Ivo) Loretta McManaman is responsible for keeping the history of this branch of the McManaman family from Achill alive and connected.  She has worked diligently on it for many years.  Sister Loretta has been like the hub of a wagon wheel for all the descendents of those McManamans who came to America from Achill in the late 19th Century.  All of the major branches of our McManaman family in America are known through her.  She has painstakingly drafted diagrams and written precise letters containing so much detail about specific family groups that only upon the third reading could all of the information be extracted, and she deserves our gratitude and prayers. 


            Many historical sources have been used to provide context in this present draft.  Because the process of rediscovering history is never-ending, however, this is merely a work in progress - notes of an ongoing project--organized with the help of technology.  As with classroom notes, they are thin where my attention lagged or the material became too dense.  And the material is biased from numerous perspectives, including those whom I have interviewed, those doing the research that I have utilized, and my own.  The first version was written in August of 1996.  At least a dozen errors appear on each page, and the goal in each succeeding version has been to whittle the errors per page down to only 5 or 6.  However, as new facts are added that often have not been verified, the errors inevitably increase.  Anyone who wants to contribute material is welcome.  I will keep the information digitally and return original of documents or pictures contributed.  I enjoy compiling it mostly. 




            Our McManaman family came to the United States from The Valley, on Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland.  The title of this compilation is, "McManamans of Achill Island," but that deserves qualification.  The McManaman family members who lived on Achill and immigrated to America in the 19th century are all gone, and most of their descendants have never been to Ireland.  Moreover, McManamans were on Achill for probably only about two hundred and thirty years before the majority of the family immigrated to the United States.  The roughly two hundred and thirty year period they likely spent on Achill, however, seems enough to justify the title which distinguishes this branch. 


            Ireland is about half the size of Arkansas, and Achill is perhaps 10 miles wide by 15 miles long off the west coast of Ireland.  On a map of Ireland you can find Achill Island by going to the top left hand side, and then dropping down to the largest island in the Atlantic.  It is one of the westernmost landmasses in Europe.  North and east, in County Donegal, is where this story starts, however.


I.                The Meaning of the MacMeanman Surname and Origin in Tir Conaill[i]


The McManaman surname did not originate in Mayo.  Instead, the McManamans in Mayo came from Tir Conaill (now “County Donegal”).  McManaman is an old and not uncommon surname in Tir Conaill and also Thomond (Woulfe, 1923).  The McManaman name was originally the Gaelic "MacMeanman."  The prefix "mac" signifies "son of" and the remainder was derived from the Irish word "meanma," which translates as "courage, high-spirits" (Woulfe, 1923). 


As will be discussed below, the Annals of Loch Ce in 1303 show the surname, mentioning the deaths of two MacMeanmans, nephews of O'Donnell, in a battle for Tir Connaill.  Over a few hundred years, the name also appears many times in the Papal records, the diocese of Raphoe, and in the English list of “followers of O'Donnell of Tirconnel” in 1601.  (The Historical Research Center, Inc., County Mayo, 1994).  Because of the plantation of Donegal by the English in the 1650’s, the family surname moved to County Mayo. 


In West County Tyrone the surname’s common anglicized variant is "MacMenamin," whereas in County Mayo it is often "McManamon" (The Historical Research Center, Inc., County Mayo, 1994).  Many other variants exist, and in Mayo the "McManaman" spelling is less common than the other Mayo variant, “McManamon.”  It is not known how long the name has been spelled with the “-man” ending.  Parish priests on Achill (and probably elsewhere) rarely spelled it the same way twice in their records during the mid-1800's, displaying more variation than one might reasonably expect, and it is unknown whether family members were literate during the mid-1800's anyway.  Moreover, there are examples of indifference to the use of the alternate ending "-mon" in this Achill branch of the MacMeanman sept[ii] into at least the 1940's. 


As noted above, the first members with the surname appear in historical records around 1303, but because Irish genealogy is some of the best preserved in Europe, it is possible to understand quite a lot about the unique historical setting and the families from whom the MacMeanman sept descended.

II.              Tir Conaill and the Ui’ Neill: 400-800 A.D.


            In the Fifth Century, the Ui’ Neill came from the kingdom of Connacht and established their dominance, controlling Northwest Ulster, including Tir Conaill where the MacMeanman family originated.  Conall [Gulban] of the Ui’ Neill was one of the sons of “Niall of the Nine Hostages” who came from Connacht at that time.[iii]  Conall Gulban’s sept, Cenél Conaill, centered its power and kingdom in Magh Ithe in the Finn Valley. 


The O’Donnell sept was part of Cenél Conaill, having descended from Conall Gulban through Sil Lugdach (that includes O’Boyle as well as O’Doherty).  The O’Donnell’s, from whom the MacMeanman’s descended, lived at first in the north along the Lennon River, later settling in the south of Tir Connell. 


Cenél Eoghain, the competing sept, descended from Eoghain (Owen), the brother of Conall Gulban.  Cenél Eoghain alternated with the Cenél Conaill sept for the kingship of the north until the 8th Century.  The series of conflicts between the Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eoghain resulted in the latter being the dominant Northern Dynasty by the 9th Century, spreading into modern Derry and Tyrone counties. 


This period of development of, and competition between, Cenél Conaill and Cenél Eoghain coincided with one of the most important periods of Irish history for the western world. 


a.            The Irish Preservation of Classical Knowledge: 400-500 A.D.[iv]


The beginning of this period saw the Christening and taming of Ireland, followed by the reception and transmission of classical knowledge from the Mediterranean to this, the very edge of the known world.  While receiving the gifts of the classical world, a new Irish monastic tradition played a critical role in its preservation, protecting the content of classical literature by copying the great manuscripts of the past.  Finally, through that innovative tradition, Ireland re-distributed those manuscripts to the few locales in Europe (including as far east as Russia) where such things retained significance. 


Early in the Fifth Century, the eternal Roman Empire, eleven centuries old, had reached the crescendo of its collapse with the onslaught of the barbarians across the frozen Rhine.  The barbarian destruction caused the borders of the empire to collapse until Britain was exposed to terrifying Irish slave raiders, the depredations of Germanic Angles and Saxons, and the ascendancy of Britain’s own non-Roman piracy and lawlessness.  However, just as the civilized world was devolving, the land of Ireland began rushing even more rapidly from chaos to peace. 


Patricius, later St. Patrick, had been born a civilized Roman Briton, but he was captured by the Irish slave raiders and taken to Ireland at age 16.[v]  Upon returning to Britain 6 years later, Patrick studied, became a priest, bishop, and eventually the perfect missionary to Ireland, a land outside the Roman Empire’s sense of cultural superiority and order. 


Throughout the Roman world, Christianity had become nearly synonymous with citizenship, which by the 5th century was understandable considering the way Christianity had spread after adoption by Emperor Constantine.  Missions had scarcely existed from the time of the Apostles, including Paul, to the time of Patrick, and a mission to a non-Roman place would have seemed especially pointless to the empire’s citizenry.  Nevertheless, over the next forty years, Patrick (and others) successfully converted the warring and violent tribal Celts of Ireland to Christianity, establishing bishoprics adjacent to kings (Ireland had no cities), monasteries and convents.  The change in the warring Celtic tribes was pronounced and sudden, resulting in an end to slavery[vi] and human sacrifice, and a decrease in murder and violent intertribal warfare throughout the island. 


By 461, the likely year of Patrick’s death, the Roman Empire was careening in chaos, only 15 years from the death of the last western emperor.  Ireland had converted to Christianity, and its monasteries had developed, in part, from an influx of learned monks fleeing the barbarian hordes.  Irish monasteries that had only recently sprung up remained free from the barbarians like the Huns, the Gauls, and the Vandals that terrorized the civilized western world, tearing apart its foundations and breaking it into smaller and weaker bits. 


Not only were the Irish converted to Christianity, but the growing monasteries  (the first large concentrations of people in Ireland), established hubs of prosperity, art and learning.  Patrick understood that Christianity could not survive without the Roman gift of literacy, and in the monasteries scholarship progressed rapidly.  Studies in reading, writing, mathematics, art, history, geography, and religion, were taught in the newly created monastic schools.  Within a generation they had also mastered Latin, Greek, and to a lesser extent, Hebrew.  After absorbing all of Christian literature, from the Gospels to the lives of the ascetics and martyrs, to the sermons and commentaries of the Fathers of the Church, these Celt students eventually ventured on to examine and preserve the rest of western literature containing the Greco-Roman knowledge that had previously transformed the western world.  And it happened just as the civilized world was ending. 


“[A]s the Roman Empire fell. . . unwashed barbarians descended on the Roman cities, looting artifacts and burning books. ..”  How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill (Doubleday 1995).  Eventually, the western empire disintegrated into small kingdoms, with no centralized authority or ability to pass on the knowledge of the past.  Rome had created the first public libraries under Augustus, and by the time of Constantine who converted to Christianity there were twenty-eight, but as the empire fell to the barbarians, these were closed forever, and all of the great continental libraries vanished, as did the memory of them. 


“Had the destruction been complete – had every library been disassembled and every book burned - we might have lost Homer and Virgil and all of classical poetry, Herodotus and Tacitus and all of classical history, Demosthenes and Cicero and all of classical oratory, Plato and Aristotle and all of Greek philosophy, and Plotinus and Porphyry and all the subsequent commentary.  We would have lost the taste and smell of a whole civilization.  Twelve centuries of lyric, beauty, aching tragedy, intellectual inquiry, scholarship, sophistry, and love of Wisdom – the acme of ancient civilized discourse – would all have gone down the drain of history.”  (Cahill, 1995). 


Because of the isolated Irish monks, however, the destruction of literature was not complete.  Instead,


“[t]he Irish, who were just learning to read and write, took up the great labor of copying all of western literature – everything they could lay their hands on.  These scribes then served as conduits through which the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian cultures were transmitted to the tribes of Europe, newly settled amid the rubble and ruined vineyards of the civilization they had overwhelmed.”  (Cahill, 1995).


b. The Irish Transmission of Knowledge by St. Colum Cille of Cenél Conaill.

Crimthann, or “Fox” was born in 521 in Tir Conaill as a prince of Cenél Conaill.  His father’s name was Feidlimid, a great-grandson to Niall of the Nine Hostages, and like the O’Donnell and MacMeanman families to come, he too was a member of the race of Conaill [Gulban], the Cenél Conaill family that ruled Tir Connell (Donegal).[vii]  With his mother’s important lineage, Crimthann was a prince who could have been king, but instead he was educated first in the bardic traditions of his ancestors, and then under Bishop Finian of Clonard in the new tradition of Christian learning.  Crimthann became a priest monk, and his monastic nickname became Colum Cille (or “Dove of the Church” sometimes written, “Columcille” or in Romanized form as “Columba” in accounts beyond Ireland). 

Colum Cille’s first monastic baile (branch) was at Doire (oak grove) at the present City of Derry in A.D. 545.  The religious learning center at Derry was soon to become a thriving trade and agricultural community, and Colum Cille was Abbot of the Black Monks there.[viii] After establishing his first monastery at Derry, he traveled to the European continent learning more of the monastic ways before returning to Ireland, where he set about establishing monasteries throughout the island.[ix]  Educating, scribing and developing their skills, to do God’s work for the benefit of mankind, was their mandate.  Those that followed include Raphoe, Swords, Durrow, Kells, Tory Island, Drumcliffe and Ballymagroarty in Cinel Conaill. 

After taking up arms over a the copy of a book (considered the first copyright dispute), Colum Cille was excommunicated for a time and banished from Ireland as penance.  In 564 A.D., more than a hundred years after Patrick’s death, Colum Cille set out from Derry for the island of Iona, just off the coast of present day Scotland, leaving members of his monastic "familia" behind to oversee the numerous emerging foundations he had started.  To Iona, he took twelve of his monastic brethren, most of them also "familia," blood relations, to expand God’s mission to the Picts of Scotland.  The great work of converting, educating and implementing Colum Cille’s Christian Civilization in Europe, had begun. 

By that time there were very few Romans left in Western Europe.  The vast hordes of Vandals, Sueves, and Alans who had broken through the Roman boarders had spread in waves throughout Gaul, east and west, completely flooding the provinces and destroying Roman structure and political organization.  The empire was barely a memory.  The Catholic bishops and monasteries were like islands in a barbarian sea.  In Gaul only one library known to us now remained, and that library’s fate is now lost.  About this time Seville set about creating a great library totaling about 400 volumes, and Pope Gregory The Great established a library in Rome, although a poor one, overlooking, for the most part, much pagan Greek and Roman work.  Still, the illiterate mob tried to destroy it during a famine as well. 

While the newly illiterate Europe languished on the cold ruins of the empire, Iona became the new center of knowledge and text.  Colum Cille then provided the final step to reconnecting Europe with its own past.  He made one hundred and fifty the cutoff number for the Iona community, and beyond that one leader and twelve others would set off to establish a new foundation elsewhere.  Irish monasteries had hosted thousands of foreign students, and now because of Colum Cille’s directive, these Irish monks fanned out, colonizing barbarized Europe.  He had already founded over forty monasteries when he and his monks emanated from Ireland to the island of Iona.  From Iona and Scotland the monk-warriors dispersed in every direction throughout all of Europe, literally reseeding the continent with the knowledge that would otherwise have been lost forever.  By the time of his death at the end of the sixth century, sixty new foundations had been established along the coast of Scotland, baptizing and converting the Scots and Picts of northern Britain and creating a literate Christian society.  Wherever they went over the next few centuries, these monks dangled books from their waists, many of which had not been seen in Europe for centuries.  Many found their way to the European continent, establishing foundations as far as Kiev, and bringing Europe back to its ancient home.[x]  Some of these foundations later reached university status, adapting the Greek and Roman educational system. 

The Hebrew Bible would have been preserved by the Jews without the help of the Irish, as would much of Greek literature that was preserved in Byzantium, the eastern capital of the split empire.  But Latin (“Roman”) literature would have most likely been lost, and illiterate Europe would not have developed as it did.  Western literacy and its “habits of mind that encourage thought” would have died out.  Furthermore, without Colum Cille’s monks and their retransmission of western thought, when Islam began the medieval expansion it would have encountered merely scattered tribes of pagan animists and naturists, much more willing to accept a new identity. 

The weight of the Irish influence on the continent is incalculable.  Irishmen wrote more than half of the biblical commentaries between A.D. 650 and 850.  That great transmission of faith and knowledge eventually led to the development of the little Renaissance of Charlemagne.  The birth of medieval society was, in fact, made possible by the great transmission of knowledge that otherwise would have been lost, a fate that is unimaginable for the mind of a modern westerner.  Truly as a result of the preservation and transmission of knowledge, the sept of Cenél Conaill, from whom the O’Donnell and MacMeanman septs descended, was responsible for much of how the world has been shaped to this day. 

III.            800 A.D. to 1169: Viking Raiders and Occupation

Sadly, after having been the life-support of Western Civilization, Ireland was not to share equally in the wonderful developments of the continent.  Instead, Ireland became the target of frequent Viking raids from the year 800 A.D. until 1169 A.D.  Sustained Scandinavian attacks brought an abrupt halt to major Irish influence overseas and led to the abandonment of great monasteries such as Bangor and even the great Iona. However, the Irish learned much from Vikings who founded the island's first towns, three of which (Dublin, Waterford and Limerick) were cities by the time the Normans arrived near the end of this period.

In the 1000’s A.D. (11th century) the Cenél Eoghain moved the center of their power to what is now Tyrone (named after Tir Eoghan or Tir Owen).  In the meantime, in the Cenél Conaill, the O’Donnells went about establishing themselves as kings in the south of Tir Connell, with the assistance of the great Brian Baru.[xi]  In alliance with the Uí Néill (including the Cenél Eoghain and the Cenél Conaill sept from which the O’Donnell descended), Brian Baru crushed the Norse of Dublin and was acknowledged High King in 1002. The former King of Tír Conaill was even dragged to Munster in 1011 to make submission as an example to others. 

In the end, however, a great Viking-Leinster coalition was put together to topple Brian Baru.  During the conflict, emissaries were sent northwards to summon aid from across the Norse Viking world to oppose Brian Baru.  Some came from as far away as Iceland and Norway.  The Leinster host gathered in front of Dublin, and on Good Friday 1014 the Norse fleet had arrived in Dublin Bay.  Brian Baru depended mainly on his own Munster army, but he had significant help from other Vikings of Limerick and Waterford. The battle was hard fought and raged for a time around Dubhgall's Bridge over the River Liffey. Brian Baru was too old to take part, now over 70.  Whilst praying for victory in his tent, Brodar of Man, who in turn was mutilated and then killed by the Leinstermen, killed him with a battle-axe.

The momentum shifted against the Vikings from the north when they were driven back to their ships along the shore at Clontarf; the tide had come in and there was fearful slaughter along the shore. This was certainly the greatest battle yet fought on Irish soil and was long remembered amongst the Norse. In Njal's Saga one man has a vision of coming disaster and recites a poem that ends: 'Brian fell, but kept his kingdom, ere he lost one drop of blood'.

The death of Brian Baru intensified the contest between rulers to make the Irish high-kingship a reality. For most of the remainder of the eleventh century, the O'Briens - the descendants of Brian - were successful in staying on top.  The most powerful rulers were Turlough O'Brien, King of Munster 1063 - 1086, and his son Muircertach O'Brien who ruled after his father until his death in 1119. Both were high kings, as the annalists put it, 'with opposition'. The opposition in Turlough's case came mainly from the O'Connors of Connacht and the O'Rourkes of the newly emerging kingdom of Breifne in north Connacht and south Ulster.  Muircertach O’Brien faced the resistance of Ulster kings, particularly the O'Lochlainns of Cenél Eoghain. In the end the O'Connors ousted the O'Briens. Turlough O'Connor built castles and had a large naval force. The last High King was Rory O'Connor, who won complete recognition in 1166.

IV        1200’s-1303: The Development of the O’Donnell-McManaman Clerics and Warriors


After the Viking scourges, the Norman invasions also sought to take all of Ireland.  However, because Tir Connell was not overtaken by the Norman invasions during the 12th to 14th centuries, as was two-thirds of Ireland, the Celtic sept (clan) system and Milesian (Gaelic) royalty remained in power there.[xii]  Notably, the O'Donnell sept ascended as the ruling family of Tir Conaill beginning around A.D.1200, and the Gaelic O’Donnell remained in power there until A.D. 1602.  During the 13th Century, the MacMeanman family developed as a branch of the O’Donnell sept, apparently remaining affiliated throughout the next four centuries.  The discovery that the MacMeanman sept descends from O’Donnells, a branch of the Ui’ Neill, connects the MacMeanman lineage to Cenél Conall (Gulban), son of Naill of the Nine Hostages, and the same family line as St. Colum Cille. 


A number of the historical Annals include the father of the first Meanma, Lector O’Donnell (possibly Lector of Daire[xiii] or “Derry”), and his grandsons, both sons of the first Meanma.  Annals listing both the Lector O’Donnell and his MacMeanman grandsons, who died in battle, include: The Annals of Loch Ce in 1303, The Annals of Clonmacnoise 1303, and The Annals of Ulster 1303.  The 1281 Annals of Ulster also list Lector O’Donnell and his other son, Meanma’s brother, Cormac. [xiv]    


            As one researcher writes:  


"Tir Chonaill (now Donegal) was the birthplace of the Mac Meanmain[xv] sept.  In the 1200's AD, the 'Lector (an esteemed position in the church) O'Donnell' had a son named "Meanma."  This Meanma was the founder of the sept name, as his descendants after him became known as MacMeanmain. 


Meanma had at least 2 sons that we know of: Donchadh[xvi] and Aedh[xvii].  In 1303 they fought on the losing side of the feud between the two O'Domhnall[xviii] brothers fighting for the kingship of Tir Chonaill, and were killed in the battle.  Like many Irish Royal Families who were pushed out of the lines of succession, following this defeat the MacMeanmain's followed in their ancestor the Lector O'Domhnall's footsteps by creating a family dynasty in the church.  The location of this family dynasty was the see of Raphoe in Eastern Tir Chonaill.   


The MacMeanmain’s mentioned in records from 1303 were probably the sons of the first Meanma, and grandsons of Lector O'Donnell, who was apparently a Church official and maybe even a successor in Derry, the very place where St. Colum Cille had placed his first monastery centuries earlier.  These two these brothers listed in the Annals had died fighting a battle between O’Donnell brothers who were both seeking the kingship of Tir Connell. 


The Lector O'Donnell
(Possibly Lector of Daire?)
 |                   |
Cormac       Meanman
                               |                   |
                               |                           | 
                    Donchadh MacMeanman     Aedh MacMeanman

It is also possible, according to one researcher, that Lector O'Donnell was a son of the O'Donnell who first attained kingship.  Researchers are still unable to place the exact relation of the Lector O'Domhnall to that of the other O'Domhnall, but one researcher writes that it is considered a possibility that he was a "brother of Domhnall Mor (the one that died 1241), and like him a son of Eicnich (died 1208), the first O'Dohmnall to gain the kingship of Tir Chonaill (Donegal)."  If true, that would make the first known Meanma, ancestor to the family surname, a great grandson of the first O'Donnell to gain kingship in Donegal.[xix]


               As a result of the notations in the Anals, it is clear that the MacMeanmans were descendants of the O’Donnells.  Consequently they were of the same original family lines as St. Colum Cille (Columba), who also was descended from Naill of the Nine Hostages through Celen Conaill and Conall Gulban, and who was born in Tir Conaill centuries earlier.  Moreover, as previously noted, the MacMeanman sept members were clerics centered in the see of Raphoe, a historically important place and location of one of Colum Cille’s monasteries.[xx] 


V.              1303-1482 A.D.: McManamans in the O’Donnell Clerical Dynasty


As grandsons of Lector O’Donnell,[xxi] Meanman’s sons mentioned in the 1303 annals would have been ecclesiastical members of the family.  The Papal letters from the subsequent period confirm the relation of the MacMeanmans to the O’Donnells, and also reveal that the MacMeanman family remained affiliated as clergy with the ruling O’Donnell kings for nearly two centuries.  In fact, MacMeanmans are listed through the late 1400's as priests, bishops, monks canons, and clerics, referenced as learned in civil and cannon law. [xxii] 


A significant number of MacMeanmans serving as clerics during this period sought and received dispensation from Rome for the illegitimate birth of Mac Meanman priests and unmarried women, and apparently passed their ecclesiastical positions down through the generations.


As John D. McLaughlin, historian for Sept McLaughlin, states:

These listings for the MacMeanman O'Donnells in the Papal Letters are actually the norm for Irish priests of the day.  An incredible number of them were sons of priests and unmarried women, and had to receive dispensations from Rome before being elected to any of the higher offices. . . The church seemed happy to bend over backwards to keep these descendants of the old royal lines in Ireland content.

In other words, it appears that the descendants of the first Meanman were a long line of clergy, priests and bishops, as has been shown by Papal letters allowing dispensation in numerous generations.  Rather than viewing these dispensation practices as a corruption of the Church, it is more accurate to view them as an allowance of the continuation of pre-existing values regarding the clergy.[xxiii]  

The Mac Meanman clergy continued for at least two hundred years alongside the ruling O’Donnells.  Unlike kings in most other European countries, new Tir Chonaill kings were not determined solely by birthright.  Rather, the kingdom’s chieftains elected them from several candidates based on their personal attributes.  The Mac Meanman family, maintaining its royal designation throughout their dynastic church era of the 1300's-1500's, may consequently have been involved in the selection process for picking the O'Donnell kings, as well as the impressive and elaborate ceremonies surrounding the inauguration of each new O'Donnell King.

               VI. 1482-1600 A.D.: Continued Support for the O’Donnells and Opposition to English Domination.  


The Ulster Irish had been successful in opposing the earlier invasion of the Normans from the 12th to the 14th cenrturies.  Areas such as Tir Connell had kept their local kings and customs, and the O’Donnell kingship and the MacMeanman clergy continued in their natural state of independence.  Early in the 16th century, however, the English reenergized their attempts to exert dominion over the Irish lands and people.  Records show that the MacMeanman family maintained their cleric dynasty and remained affiliated in that position with the O’Donnell sept until at least 1482 (the date of the last Papal letter to mention one).  While no records of clerical MacMeanmans have been found for the subsequent period, later records do show continued loyalty and relations between the O’Donnell nobility and the Mac Meanman sept.  Therefore, it is likely the Mac Meanman sept remained fairly closely tied to the O’Donnells.  Understanding the broader forces and conflicts involving Ireland (and specifically the O’Donnells), therefore, helps illuminate what likely happened to the MacMeanman sept during the interim as well. 


As discussed below, Mac Meanman members in fact remained supporters of the O'Donnells until the end of the kingship.  John McLaughlin states it clearly:

The Papal Letters mention a long list of MacMeanman prelates and Bishops of the church in Donegal - but the listings end in 1482. What happened to them after that date? According to MacLysaght, in about 1600 they were named as "followers of O'Donnell" in an English document, which would imply they were still a cohesive sept at that date and probably held a territory of some kind or at least a minor position of authority under the O'Donnells.

The Flight abroad in 1607 of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell and their followers is generally reckoned to mark the end of Gaelic Ireland as a distinct political system.  The interim century and a quarter, from 1482 until the end of the O’Donnell rule, saw the establishment of the Irish struggle and conflict that continues to the present day.  The MacMeanman sept was part of that resistance, and apparently remained affiliated with the O’Donnell, the last sovereign king of Ireland. 


               a.               The Tudors attempt to extend their reach beyond the Pale: 1509-1558


               Henry the VIII had broken with the Roman Catholic Church in 1531 and declared himself head of the Church in England in 1534.  He dissolved the monasteries in England between 1536 and 1540, and in 1541, the Irish Parliament declared him King of Ireland, but several decades were to pass before Ulster finally came under the control of the Tudor monarchy.   


It was Henry VIII and his Tudor successors, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I, who completed the conquest of Ireland begun by the Anglo-Normans four centuries before. Prior to the time of the Tudors, most parts of Ireland lay outside English control, being dominated either by Gaelic lords such as O'Neill and O'Donnell, or descendants of the Anglo-Norman conquerors such as Fitgerald and Butler. Following the destruction of the Leinster Fitzgeralds in 1535 in the wake of the revolt of Silken Thomas, Henry was in a position to try more conciliatory methods, designed particularly to persuade the Gaelic and Gaelicised Anglo-Norman lords to give up their distinctive ways and submit to the Crown. The policy of 'Surrender and Regrant', whereby Irish lords submitted to English control and received English titles in return, was a considerable success, examples being Burke, created Earl of Clanrickard, O'Brien, created Earl of Thomond, and O'Neill, created Earl of Tyrone. Yet Henry's second great campaign, a religious one to extend the Protestant Reformation to Ireland, enjoyed little success in Gaelic areas.


T W Moody and F X Martin Editors, The Course of Irish History, Cork 1994 Edition, pages 174-88.


For centuries the native Irish had struggled to preserve the Gaelic way of life, with its distinct laws and customs. Through inter-marriage many of the Norman conquerors had become 'more Irish than the Irish', until the King of England's rule had been confined to a small area around Dublin known as the Pale.  During the sixteenth century, successive Tudor monarchs tried to extend their authority, but there was always strong resistance form the northern province of Ulster [which included the O’Donnell territory in Tir Connell].


From A Little History of Ireland by Martin Wallace.

Mary was the first English monarch to attempt confiscation [in Ireland], followed by 'plantation' or colonization.  She crushed the O'Mores and O'Connors in Laois and Offaly and planted their lands with families from the Pale - a process completed by Elizabeth.

A Little History of Ireland by Martin Wallace.

b.              Elizabeth I Ascends to the English Throne, 1558 A.D.

               Elizabeth I came to power in 1558 and reigned until 1603.  During her reign, the situation in Ireland became even more difficult than it had been under Henry, Edward, and Mary.

Religion became a factor in the struggle.  Soon after the Protestant Queen Elizabeth came to the English throne in 1558, an Irish parliament passed an Act of Supremacy confirming her as head of the Irish Church, and requiring office-holders in church and state to swear allegiance to her. The Gaels and their "Old English" allies remained staunchly loyal to the Roman Catholic Church.

A Little History of Ireland by Martin Wallace.

               Queen Elizabeth I ruled England and Ireland for 45 years and was the last of the Tudor monarchs. During the reign of the House of Tudor, both the independent Gaelic kingdoms and the Norman Lordships were brought under the control of the Crown. With the Reformation and the arrival of the new English Protestant Colonists, many of the old Norman families began to find themselves out of favor with the government.  They were regarded by the authorities as the 'Civil Irish' as opposed to the native or 'Wild Irish'.  The Irish considered the Norman families to be the 'Old English'.  In time most of the descendants of the Normans threw their lot in with the Gaelic Irish and became indistinguishable from them in all but surname.  (Local Ireland, 2000).

            c.            Elizabethan Plantation

   The complete conquest of Ireland became a strategic necessity for Elizabeth I during a time when Spain threatened to use the island as a means of challenging England from the west.  In addition, the land and its forests were attractive to young Englishmen seeking farms and estates of their own.  Plantation had not begun with a great deal of success, and ultimately the final subjugation of Ulster was a heavy burden on royal resources due to the encounters with the O’Donnell and O’Neill rulers of the area.

Elizabeth approved a scheme prepared by her privy councillor, Sir Thomas Smith, to set up a colony in Clandeboye, even though the lord of the area, Brian MacPhelim O'Neill, had been knighted for his services against Shane O'Neill.  The expedition was badly prepared and ran into difficulties as soon as the English landed at Strangford in August 1572. Smith appealed in vain to Dublin for help and was killed.  A much larger enterprise was launched by Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, in August 1573.  At first the O'Neills seemed to acquiesce in his presence but the Queen's favorite had difficulty in attracting enough colonists.  Displaying deceit and cold-blooded cruelty, Essex murdered O'Neills in Belfast castle and sent Sir Brian to Dublin to be executed.  The MacDonnell women and children, taking refuge on Rathlin, were slaughtered by Sir John Norris and Francis Drake.  The plantation failed and Essex died of dysentery in Dublin in 1576. 

VIII.               Rebellion and The Flight of the Earls: 1601-1607

               a.               The Rebellion and the Battle of Kinsale 1601

Following Elizabeth's replacement of the 'old English' administrators with real English; a Gaelic rebellion was launched, led by the Northern clans. [O'Neill's and O'Donnells]. Hugh O'Donnell defeated an English army at the 'Ford of the Biscuits' in 1594, as a prelude to the bloody Nine Years War.  Beginning in 1595, the conflict involved  O'Donnell, O’Neill, Maguire, and others in active rebellion.[xxiv]  In 1598, O'Neill and O'Donnell dramatically defeat Bagenal and his force of about 5000 men at the Yellow Ford.  MacMeanman’s were involved with the O’Donnells during this time and were, in fact, listed in Queen Elizabeth’s fiants of 1601 and were pardoned along with the chief of his name, Neyle garrow O’Donnell (Neal garve O’Donnell of Castlefinn).[xxv]

Relations between Spain and Ulster had persisted over the years.[xxvi]  Beginning in 1595 at the outset of the Nine Years War, Hugh O’Donnell and Hugh O’Neill made frequent appeals to Philip II of Spain for help and, indeed, substantial quantities of arms had been brought from Spain to Killybegs harbor to resist the English.  It was not until September 1601 that an expeditionary force was sent, however, and it landed at Kinsale, far south of the center of the rebellion.  When the Spanish were surrounded by the English at Kinsale they sent an appeal north for help. After much heart searching, the Gaelic lords of Ulster broke out of their province and made the long and perilous journey to County Cork.  Exhausted, and in unfamiliar territory, the northern Irish camped behind the English. No contact could be established with the Spanish.

The Irish attack began before dawn on Christmas Eve 1601.  Mountjoy's men saw the matches of the Irish harquebuses glowing in the dark and launched a furious cavalry attack - the English fought the way they preferred in the open and the Ulstermen were routed very rapidly before the Spanish under Don Juan del Aguila realized what was happening.  The Battle of Kinsale was far larger than the Battle of Culloden a century and a half later in Scotland but its consequences for Ireland were very similar to those for Gaelic Scotland.

               b.               The Defeat of Tyrone 1601 - 1603

Red Hugh O'Donnell sailed to Spain in a vain attempt to get more help, and was poisoned by an English spy called Blake.  O'Neill pulled back to Ulster.  Elizabeth I wrote to Mountjoy: 'Next We do require you, even whilst the Iron is hot, so to strike... We con you many Lauds for having so nearly approached the villainous Rebel, and see no Reason why so great Forces should not end his Days'.

Mountjoy responded by laying waste much of Ulster; he built forts and slaughtered all Irish he found in arms. He concentrated on seizing corn and cattle and wore down the rebellion by causing a terrible famine across the province.  One by one members of ruling Gaelic families came over to the English and O'Neill was reduced to a rearguard action in the great forests of Glenconkeyne in the Sperrin mountains.  As the English closed in, Elizabeth changed her instructions to Mountjoy and authorized him to offer a pardon.  O’Neill eagerly accepted the offer of a safe-conduct taken to him by Sir Garret Moore, who took him to his estate of Mellifont Abbey in March 1603.

The terms were more lenient than O'Neill could have dared to hope for: he retained his lordship over his traditional territory.  Mountjoy, too, was anxious for a swift agreement, as he knew what O’Neill of Tyrone did not: that Elizabeth had died a few days before.  James I of Scotland then became King of England, and the lord deputy Mountjoy had no certain idea what the new monarch's policy would be.  Soon, however, it became clear that the policy would be continued efforts to dominate Ireland and populate it with Protestant foreigners.   

            c.            Tir Conaill:  The Fall of Sovereignty and Flight to the Continent (1602 – 1607).

Tir Conaill had withstood the Norman invasions during the 12th to 14th centuries and did not fall the way two-thirds of Ireland had.  Instead, the Celtic sept system and royalty had remained in power up until this time.  Tir Conaill was the last sovereign Irish kingdom to fall to English rule, in 1602.  The rulers that were not captured eventually fled to the European continent along with much of the remaining Irish nobility. This migration occurring from all parts of Ireland was known as "The Flight of the Earls," and the exiled rulers were called "The Wild Geese." 

               The rebels were not treated harshly after the defeat of Kinsale.  Rather, Hugh O’Neill was allowed to keep his castle and most of his lands.  By the terms of his surrender at Mellifont in 1603, O'Neill gave up his Irish title, O'Neill, and took the title Earl of Tyrone.  He was allowed to retain most of the lands that had been granted to Conn O'Neill in 1542.  Rory O'Donnell, younger brother of the late Red Hugh O’Donnell, became Earl of Tyrconnell on the same terms.  The two earls travelled to London, where the new king, James I, confirmed the Treaty of Mellifont.  But the English officials who ruled Ulster were unfriendly and tried to turn the lord deputy in Dublin against the earls. They spread a rumor that Hugh O'Neill and Rory O'Donnell were planning another rebellion, and the earls were summoned to London for questioning.

               Fearing for their safety, the earls decided that the best course would be to leave the country and, in 1607, the O’Donnells partially destroyed their castle to keep it from falling into English hands[xxvii], and fled with other royalty to the continent.  The great exodus of nobility, known as the Flight of the Earls, took place from the harbour of Rathmullan in Lough Swilly, 26 km (16 miles) NE of Letterkenny, in present day County Donegal.  On board the French ship were Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O'Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, together with more than ninety of their family and followers.[xxviii]  The ship was bound for Spain, but fierce storms forced them to disembark in France in early October. [xxix]

Oral tradition holds that many of the McMeanmans fled into the bog and mountains after the Battle of Kinsale.[xxx]  As members associated with the native O’Donnell royalty, however, it is possible that some MacMeanmans left with the “Wild Geese.” 


IX.               1607-1650:  The Plantation of Ulster

The flight into exile saw the end of the old Gaelic order in Ireland and within two years the plantation of Ulster began anew.  The plantations of Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I had not been successful, but the government planned the new settlement more carefully.  When the Flight of the Earls denuded Ulster of its Gaelic aristocracy in 1607, James I declared O’Donnell, O’Neill and Maguire traitors and the government took the opportunity to confiscate their lands, and eventually six of the nine Ulster counties (Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Fermanagh, and Tyrone - present day Northern Ireland).[xxxi]  The subsequent plantation of Ulster, introducing Protestant settlers from England and Scotland, laid the foundation of today's divided island.  (Wallace, A Little History of Ireland). 

a.         O'Doherty's Rebellion 1607 - 1609

               The Flight of the Earls was followed by an unsuccessful rebellion in 1608 by Sir Cahir O'Doherty.  In December 1607 lands of the departed lords were confiscated and preparations for an extensive plantation began.  Events the following spring were intended to even extend the scope of the project.  Sir Cahir O'Doherty, foreman of the grand jury that had found a true bill for treason against the earls, quarreled with Sir George Paulet, who had replaced Docwra as governor of Derry in 1607.  Showing none of the finesse of his predecessor, Paulet punched O'Doherty in the face. 

On 18 April 1608 O'Doherty rose in revolt, seized Culmore fort and attacked Derry the following night.  Derry was set aflame, Strabane was burned soon after, and the rebellion threatened to spread across Ulster as factions of the O'Cahans and O'Hanlons came out in revolt.  It is still not certain whether or not Hugh O'Neill, Rory O'Donnell and the other Ulster lords intended to return with foreign aid.  The government of James I welcomed their departure, however, and his Lord Deputy, Chichester in particular thought this was an ideal opportunity for a plantation for 'the whole realm, and especially the fugitive countries, are more utterly depopulated and poor than ever before for many hundred years'.

               Sir Richard Wingfield counter-attacked, recovered the burnt shell of Derry, and on 5 July O'Doherty was killed at the Rock of Doon, near Kilmacrennan. Mopping-up operations continued around the Donegal islands during the autumn.  Sir Niall O'Donnell (with whom a MacMeanman had been pardoned in 1601), and Sir Donnell O'Cahan were also accused of treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London. This meant that almost all the land in the six counties of Tyrconnell (Donegal), Coleraine, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Cavan could be confiscated by the crown, and therefore be available for plantation.  The outcome of O’Dougherty’s Rebellion: the confiscation of more land and the vast extension of the planned plantation.

               b.               The Printed Book 1610

               Meanwhile, a highly-successful piecemeal colonization was proceeding in the counties of Antrim and Down. In return for his freedom from the dungeon of Carrickfergus castle, Conn Mac Neill O'Neill agreed to the tripartite division of his lordship of Upper Clandeboye: the Ards went to Sir Hugh Montgomery; Sir James Hamilton got north Down and around Killyleagh; and O'Neill kept Castlereagh. The two Scottish lairds were very successful in attracting large numbers of Lowland Scots to their new estates.  Chichester encouraged the English to colonize Belfast and the area around it; Sir Moses Hill, a tenant of Chichester's, brought over fellow Englishmen to west Down, and Randal MacDonnell kept himself in favor with James I by inviting Protestant Scots to settle his estates.

               This development greatly interested the Irish king who took a close personal interest in the plan of plantation, published in what became known as the Printed Book, issued in April 1610. The six counties of Coleraine, Tyrconnell (Donegal), Cavan, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh were to be divided between three kinds of people:  Undertakers (who undertook to remove the Irish and plant with Protestant British families who themselves were not allowed to have tenants); Servitors (those who had served the Crown in Ireland, and who could take on both British and Irish tenants, but who got lower rents if they colonized with Protestant British); and 'deserving' Irish (who had changed sides in time during Tyrone's rebellion, and who could have Irish tenants). It divided the land into estates of three sizes: 810 hectares, 607 hectares, and 405 hectares.  Rents were low, but settlers were expected to build fortified houses.  Even Chichester felt that the native Irish had been assigned too little land.[xxxii]

               c.               Charles I and Ireland 1625 - 1641

               Charles I was personally interested in the success of the Plantation of Ulster, not only as a way of paying debts acquired by Elizabeth I during her Irish Wars, but also to spread Protestantism and to secure the province for the Crown.  Charles I was more concerned to assert his royal prerogatives and to ensure allegiance to the Established church.  During this time the royally controlled courts of high commission and Star Chamber waged a harsh campaign against nonconformists and recusants (Catholics), and large emigrations to America, of both Puritans and Catholics, took place.

               In 1633 he sent Thomas Wentworth to Ireland as Lord Deputy to raise funds for the royal coffers and to enforce High Church conformity on the Protestants. Imperious and indefatigable, Wentworth soon alienated every interest group in the country. A Commission for Defective Titles sent ripples of alarm through the landed classes; natives, Old English (Catholic descendants of Norman conquerors) and planters alike paid heavy fines to retain their estates. For failing to evict the Irish from their lands the London Companies were hounded until the Court of Star Chamber condemned them to pay a fine of £70,000 and to surrender their grant.  Presbyterian Scots settlers were forced to take the 'Black Oath' of 'abjuration of their abominable covenant'. Sir John Clotworthy, the leading puritan in Ulster, helped to galvanize resistance to Charles in Westminster.

               Meanwhile the Ulster Plantation suffered difficulties: estates were often much larger than stated in the grants and it proved difficult to find enough British to colonize them; the land was ruthlessly stripped of its timber; and the native Irish everywhere outnumbered the planters, resentful at their losses and reduction in status. Meanwhile, Counter-Reformation zeal amongst the Catholic Irish was being strengthened by friars sent over from Spain and Flanders.

               d.               O'Neill and Monro 1641 - 1646

Why exactly the Irish rebellion of 1641 took place is open to conjecture. The root cause of the uprising seems to be that of nationalism coupled with fears of increasing religious restrictions and English bureaucracy.  In the years that followed the Flight of the Earls, the government made other settlements in Carlow, King's County, Leitrim, Longford, and Wexford.  Even Old English nobles (descendants of Norman settlers) lost their lands. As a result of these plantations, bitter feelings were aroused, and Roman Catholic landowners became alarmed.  None of them felt secure in their lands.  Religion was another cause of discontent.  Roman Catholics had enjoyed a certain degree of religious freedom under King James I and King Charles I. But they feared that the Puritans, who were coming to power in England, would persecute them.  The rebellion could perhaps be described as a final push to restore the Irish way of life.  The result of the rebellion, however, was the subjugation by Oliver Cromwell, insuring that never again would the old Gaelic people of Ulster and the now established settlers regard each other as equals.  This long remembered uprising would ultimately cast its shadow right into the twentieth century.

In 1641, the Irish rebelled, and for 10 years war raged throughout the country. The accounts of the massacres of the settlers appear to be exaggerated, but certainly many men, women and children were killed, and others died from exposure and hunger.  The Irish Catholics fought for independence.  The Old English joined them, but all through the war they declared that they were loyal to the king and were fighting only for religious freedom. The Protestants were also divided into two groups: those who supported the king and those who supported Parliament.

At a meeting convened in Kilkenny in October 1642 a confederation of the various parties was formed and it effectively became Ireland's new government.  The leaders of the rebellion formed the Confederation of Kilkenny and appointed Owen Roe O'Neill and Thomas Preston as generals.  Eoghan Rua O'Neill (Owen Roe O’Neill), a nephew of the Great Hugh O'Neill, had been educated at Louvain and served in the Spanish army in Flanders for nearly 40 years.  News of the confederacy’s success reached the Irish on the continent and others who had extensive military experience in continental armies came back from exile. 

               O’Neill returned to Ireland in 1642 and took control of the forces in Ulster.  He typified the spirit of Irish Catholicism that was nurtured by the Counter Reformation movement among Irish exiles on the Continent.   Owen Roe O’Neill used his prestige and military experience to stiffen the ranks of the Ulster Irish.  The task was not easy for Ulster, the province he had left 40 years before, 'not only looks like a desert, but like Hell...'.  

               O'Neill was frustrated by the attitude of the Old English, who never cast aside their loyalty to the Crown and were unwilling to throw themselves into a major military campaign to ensure the triumph of the Counter-Reformation in Ireland. The Kilkenny confederates agreed to a 'cessation' or truce in 1643. The native Irish in Ulster wanted to fight on to recover their lands, but without resources they could do little more than skirmish with the Scottish Army under General Monro. In 1643 the Irish forces under Eoghan Roe O’Neill were defeated at the Battle of Clones.

               Then in 1645 Giovanni Battista Rinuccini arrived as papal nuncio with impressive supplies of arms, thus giving Owen Roe the chance to activate the Ulster army he had trained.  At the beginning of June 1646 Monro moved south to deal with the Confederates on behalf of Parliament, but was caught at the River Blackwater at Benburb.  Though the Scots were equal in number to the Irish they were completely overwhelmed, and Monro was fortunate to escape amidst the slaughter.  It was the greatest and most annihilating victory in arms the Irish ever won over the British.  Little ever came of it, however.  In England Charles I was now in open conflict with the English parliament and O'Neill's victory over the Scottish was seen as a victory for the king. 

               e.               The Rebellion Crushed 1646 - 1650

               In September 1646, having locked up the Confederacy supreme council with O'Neill's help, Rinuccini appointed himself president, broke the three-year truce and resumed the war against the Protestants, Royalists and Parliamentarians alike.  Despite O’Neill’s stunning victory at the Battle of Benburb, the Confederation of Kilkenny under the control of the Lord Lieutenant published peace terms that were less than favourable to the Irish side.  This bewildering period of inconclusive negotiation, internal disputation and indecisive campaigning was brought to an abrupt end of the English Civil War by the execution of Charles I, about the same time as the death of O’Neill.  Charles I was beheaded on Jan. 30, 1649, and by August of that year, Oliver Cromwell had arrived in Dublin. 

               Taking Drogheda on 11th September, Cromwell slaughtered the garrison - around 2,600 - specifically in revenge for Ulster massacres of 1641.  A second massacre was carried out in Wexford a month later when about 2,000 were killed.  His ruthlessness struck fear into Irish hearts, and many of the southern and eastern towns surrendered without a struggle.

               The subjugation of Ulster was also bloody. When Cromwell sent Colonel Robert Venables to recover the north he had the support only of Sir Charles Coote, commander of the Derry garrison. These however were seasoned veterans of Naseby. Royalist Scots were cut to pieces at Lisburn in December 1649, and General Tam Dalyell then surrendered Carrickfergus castle.  The migrations from Ulster peaked at the time of Oliver Cromwell, the English general and de facto dictator.

X.         Cromwellian settlement 1650 - 1660

Skirmishing continued in Ulster for some time after Cromwell's expedition.  Bishop Heber MacMahon was elected to lead Catholic resistance after the death of Owen Roe O'Neill in November 1649.  MacMahon was routed at Scarrifhollis near Letterkenny in June 1650, and hanged soon after. When Cromwell returned to England in 1650, the war was almost over, but the Irish army did not surrender for another two years.  Sporadic guerrilla fighting lasted until Philip O'Reilly formally capitulated in April 1653 after a successful assault on Lough Oughter. After almost a decade of conflict, famine swept the island and wolves so increased that they had a price on their heads.  Ireland was in a wretched condition. Its population was halved. Most of its leaders were either dead or living in exile, and about 30,000 of its armed men had left to join the armies of France or Spain.   Hundreds of people were executed, around 12,000 were transported to the West Indies, and millions of acres were confiscated. Only those landowners who could prove 'constant good affection' to the parliamentary cause were not punished.

The English government then undertook what it hoped would be the final settlement of Ireland. Irish landowners were ordered to move west of the River Shannon to the province of Connacht before May 1, 1652, on pain of death. The provinces of Ulster, Leinster, and Munster were divided among Cromwellian soldiers and adventurers (Englishmen who had subscribed money to pay for Cromwell's campaign in Ireland). Only the Irish landowners were transplanted. The poor people were allowed to remain as tenants, tradespeople, and laborers.

               In practice Protestants were absolved if they paid fines, but almost all Catholic landowners disappeared in Ulster, many obtaining smaller estates in Leitrim as compensation. In Ulster the biggest confiscations were in the east and south of the province: 41 per cent of the land of Antrim, 26 per cent of Down, 34 per cent of Armagh and 38 per cent of Monaghan. Only 4 per cent of Tyrone was confiscated, and Cromwell's charter restored Londonderry to the City of London, showing that the Ulster Plantation was largely undisturbed in those areas.  As a result of Cromwellian settlement and laws, there was no part of Ireland where Catholics owned more than 1/2 of the land. 

The Cromwellian settlement was not a complete success. Many of the settlers sold their farms and returned home. Others married into Irish families, and their descendants lost their English characteristics. But the settlement did succeed in creating a new landlord class. Before 1641, Roman Catholics owned about three-fifths of the land. By the 1680's, they owned one-fifth of it.

               a.               McManaman Flight to Mayo

               To the Ulster Catholics Cromwell reportedly said in exasperation, "Go to hell or Connaught."  They chose the latter and many became tenants in the poor County Mayo countryside.  The McManaman's were led from Donegal by Roger (Rory) O’Donnell, son of Colonel Manus O’Donnell who died in the Battle of Benburb in 1646.[xxxiii]  (Roger O’Donnell was also likely the grandson of Neal garve O’Donnell of Castlefinn with whom a McManaman had been pardoned by Elizabeth’s fiant in 1601).  Ballycroy (Baile Cruaiche), County Mayo, part of barony of Erris, received many of those banished by Oliver Cromwell and led by Roger O’Donnell in about 1654.[xxxiv]   The O'Donnell Chieftains had much influence in the development of Ballycroy.

               b.               Those that stayed in Donegal


The descendants of Meanman who stayed in Donegal were numerous and many remain there, spelling the name in various ways.  According to The Voice, a local paper founded by a McMenamin in Donegal, at least some of the family carries the royal O'Donnell blood in their veins.  The McMenamin’s worked very closely with the O'Donnells and defended their interests in the Finn Valley area for centuries.  She writes:


"McMenamin, above any other surname, is the name associated with the Twin Towns (Balleybofey and Stranorlar, essentially one town with two parts separated by the River Finn).  The only other part of the Donegal county where McMenamins occur in numbers is Letterkenny.  Given that both Letterkenny and Balleybofey were important strategic areas for transport and commerce, they probably had to be "spirited" [the meaning of the surname] to survive.   A small example of how numerous the McMenamins have been, and are, in the Glenfin, is that the railroad which used to run through the area was known locally as "The McMenamin Railroad," because so many McMenamins worked on it.


      Locally (in Donegal), McMenamins are successful in the professions, and the McMenamin construction firm has given the county some fine public buildings, notably Gweedore church.  Comedienne Rosaleen Linehan is the sister of the late Dr. Matt McMenamin of Stranorlar.  "Stair na h-Eirann," the classic Irish-language textbook, was written by Sean McMenamin of Glenties.  In recent times, photographer Anne McMenamin has scored a runaway success with her first book, "When We Were Young." 


XII.    Migration to Achill


               a.               Donegal, Ballycroy, Innishbiggle, and Achill.


               As noted, the McManaman suname originated in the northern county of Donnegal in Ulster, where they were learned clerics and at times warriors.  With Oliver Cromwell's conquest of Ireland in the 1650's, came the imposition of English culture and the Protestant religion in Ulster.    In great upheavals, huge migrations of the Catholic majority moved from Ulster into areas far from the centers of Irish culture.  The retreat by those people out of the North and into the barren western county of Mayo populated Mayo with many new surnames.  The McManaman’s, likely led by Roger O’Donnell, fled south-westerly to Ballycroy, County Mayo.


It is possible McManamans were on Achill Island from the mid-1650’s, two hundred and twenty years before the first known family members emigrated to the U.S.A.  It is not at all clear that our McManaman family came to Achill directly from Donegal, however.  It is more probable that they first settled in the nearby area of Mayo called Ballycroy, which is just across Blacksod Bay from Achill.  One source has reported the oral tradition that McManamans in fact came to Achill from an earlier settlement in the Ballycroy area where many McManaman’s can still be found.   This would comport with the Ballycroy history as well.  It is well known that Roger O’Donnell reportedly led many to the Ballycroy area in 1654, and although part of the barony of Erris, the people of Ballycroy Parish have often felt a greater affinity to Achill and Newport than parts of Erris like Bangor and Belmullet.  As noted by one author, “[t]his is probably caused by their distinctive origin.  About 1654 many Catholics were driven out of Ulster and settled in Ballycroy.  Many others settled in the Barony of Burrishoole, with whom the Ballycroy Northerners kept in communication.”[xxxv]


Patrick Knight wrote of the people of Ballycroy in 1831:  ‘This colony of Ulstermen, at whatever time they settled in this country, still retain the ancient dialect of language used in the North: intermarry almost exclusively with one another, a hardy, low-sized, dark featured race, bold, daring and intrepid in danger, not good tempered buy hospitable to an extreme.  A stranger seldom enters their country without having the usual salute of "You are welcome,” given him, be he known or not.  They are considered generally intelligent and having that degree of cleverness an acuteness, particularly in bargaining, said to be peculiar to their Northern origin.  They are the material of great people if properly managed.[xxxvi]


The O’Donovan Ordinance Survey Letters of 1835 also contain information relative to the O’Donnell colonization of Ballycroy with McManamans.[xxxvii] 


Other indications are that the McManamans perhaps lived on Innishbiggle Island before coming to Achill proper.  Innishbiggle is situated generally in Blacksod Bay between Achill Island and Ballycroy on the mainland.  Certainly, Innishbiggle (Biggle’s Island) had McManamans on it and always maintained only a very small population (67 in 1841 and only 61 in 1851).[xxxviii] 


It simply is not clear exactly when the McManamans arrived on Achill, and perhaps both scenarios are true.  Perhaps the McManaman's came to Mayo in 1654 led by Roger O’Donnell, settling first in the Ballycroy district, and then sometime later they moving from the mainland across to Inishbiggle Island, before moving to farms along the Northeast Coast of Achill in the lowlands surrounded by the loch's (lakes), and close to the sea in the shadow of Slievemore Mountain.  All conjecture aside, however, we do know that the McManaman's would have very likely left Ulster and came to the sparsely populated West of Ireland after the 1650's, at some point settling on an Atlantic island known as Achill Island.


b.         Achill Island, County Mayo


Achill Island (Eagle Island) is the shape of an inverted "L" and is the largest land mass off the west coast of Ireland, measuring 15 miles from east to west and 11 miles from north to south.  The island is barely cut off from the mainland by a narrow and shallow straight.  Bog and peat over two thirds of its area, the arable land is mostly confined to sand and peat cultivation near the coasts.  It has, however, some of the highest and most spectacular cliffs, five star beaches, and is windswept most of the year.  The magnificence of its scenery has led to its use as a very popular tourist destination since the mid 19th century.  Isolated from the heart of the country, the peculiarities of the west coast of Ireland are renown, and Achill's island culture has flourished with a distinct flavor apart from that of the rest of Ireland.  Few large settlements ever existed on or near Achill.  Instead, small enclaves of related family groups traditionally lived in rock and thatched houses near the sea, and they farmed rotating plots of land in a communal "Rundale" system.  The soil was primarily peat bog, with seaweed added by great ceremonial festivals each year to enrich it.  The remainder of the year, while crops were growing, the livestock was taken to areas of higher elevation for pasture, and the accompanying shepherds stayed for weeks in what were called Booley Villages. 


Achill history also tells of the many of the family names came as part of the forced Cromwellian resettlement during the 1650's.  Before the Flight of the Earls and the later flood of immigrants to Mayo in the 1650's instigated by Cromwell, the island of Achill was inhabited by only four families, including that of Grace O'Malley, the famed Pirate Queen, who had eluded the British and controlled the seas along the rugged Western coast in earlier times.   Even with only four family surnames on the island prior to the 1650's, however, archeological evidence exists of at least five thousand years of prior civilization on Achill, with remnants of shellfish piles, forts and strongholds remaining.


The newly arriving immigrants from Ulster, including the McManaman's, were eventually absorbed into the agricultural life of Achill, melding into the colorful island ways with only their distinct surnames remaining.        


               c.               Continued Oppression: The Penal Laws


               At the risk of overshadowing all of the McManaman, Celtic, and Irish history with the singular English question, it must be remembered that political oppression was imposed on the Irish homeland by the English from very early on, and the results of that oppression and religious bigotry are evident today in the large numbers of McManamans who emigrated first to County Mayo, and then to America.  The MacMeanman clan and others were not only were forced out of their homes in Donnegal by Cromwell's soldiers, but eventually British proclamations prohibited them, as Catholics, from holding land, political office, or professional positions, including law and military service. 


               After the Catholics left Ulster for Mayo in about 1654, more British oppression followed.  In 1704, the English imposed the Penal Laws, barring them from entering Parliament, holding government office, entering the legal profession or holding commissions in the army or navy.  Most importantly, however, these laws prevented them from owning property or practicing their faith.  As a result, on Achill as elsewhere, Catholic secrecy was paramount.  Priests were in fear of being discovered and executed for tending their congregation.  Therefore, Mass was often held at a stone alter on the Achill beach at sunrise, now called the Penal Alter.   


               During this time, Achill Island also came to be under the ownership of a few large English landowners.  Beginning even before Cromwell's torture, the Irish people had steadily lost control of much of the agricultural production of their land, with wealthy English landlords being given large tracts and renting the land back to the Irish with onerous terms, and without the benefit of a free market in landownership.  Consequently, the fertile land was beyond the reach of the Irish, and they survived as tenants on subsistence farming, mostly the potato. 


               Although there is evidence of McManaman’s on the island in the 1770’s, our earliest recorded McManaman ancestors on Achill were Katherine English McManaman (b. 1815) and James McManaman, Sr., her husband.  In part because of fear of the Penal Laws, few early records were kept, and there are no birth records of that era.  Parish records generally do not exist before the 1850's, and those that do are incomplete.  The Penal Laws were partial repealed in 1780, but full Catholic Emancipation did not come until 1829 when Katherine English McManaman and James McManaman, Sr., were teenagers.  Eventually they married and began raising their eight children in The Valley, beginning with their earliest known child's birth date of 1839, and with the youngest ones born in the latter part of the 1850's.


               d.               The Famine


               The McManaman children of James and Katherine were born before, during and after the most difficult period of Irish history.  The Great Famine began in the mid-nineteenth century primarily as a result of British laws, called the Corn Laws, which required the export of most agricultural products, and the simultaneous failure of the subsistence potato farming of the masses.  Ireland was capable of producing enough food to feed herself four times over at this time, yet the needed supply of food was not kept on Eire.  Instead, the good cropland was required to supply the exports of the English landlords.  Over the years since Cromwell, as the political and economic oppression had worsened, the Irish had lost their good cropland but had learned to use the nutritious potato, growing where nothing else would in shallow rocky and peat covered soil.  For years, the people survived and flourished despite their circumstances.  Beginning in the 1840's, however, the potato crop failed because of a then unknown bacteria which infected the harvest, turning it into a putrid inedible mush.  The disease spread with seed potatoes, reaching Achill shortly thereafter, and it continued to worsen yearly. 


               Food became scarce for the Irish in their own homeland, but the British continued the exports.  Millions began to starve and millions fled to America. County Mayo is often referred to as one of the most decimated areas during the famine.  However, the McManamans did not leave Ireland during the famine, but remained on Achill. 


               e.               The Mission


               Also during the time James and Katherine were raising their family, Achill became famous for the planting of a large Protestant Mission designed to convert the island's Catholics, particularly during the famine.  It was positioned near Dugort on the North Coast of Achill, near The Valley, and it conditionally offered food, opening Protestant schools where students were fed if they would attend.  The Mission was funded primarily from England, and residents who accepted the food without conversion were called "soupers" while those who left their faith were called "jumpers."  By all accounts except those of Edward Nangle, the mission's leader, jumpers were rare, and usually only temporary.  Life for the McManamans during the mid-Nineteenth century would have been in the shadow of the Achill Mission.


               VIII.               1862-1883: Early McManaman Emigration and the Land Wars.


               a.               Raising The Family in The Valley.


               On Achill The McManaman's were in a village known as The Valley before many of them emigrated to the United States.  The McManamans on Achill survived the famine, and James McManaman, probably born about 1815 was apparently the father of the family.   It is suspected that James died in 1864 as there is a reported obituary of a married man of that name having died in The Valley that year.  It is known that his widow, raised the children on her own.  James is listed on the death certificates of his children Bridget, Grace, Honor, and Patrick, and the wedding license of his son, James. 


               According to the Vaughan Family History, Bridget McManaman, James and Katherine's oldest known child, married Thomas Morrissey in Ireland and came to the United States in 1862.  He fought in the American Civil War and they settled in the Rock Creek Township, near the present town of Davey, in Lancaster County, Nebraska, which is north of Lincoln.  (See, the 1870 census).  Others joined them later (see below).  It should be noted that James's widow, Katherine English McManaman, born about 1815, is listed on the death certificates of Grace, Honor, Patrick and James, however, the oldest of his children we know about, Bridget, lists Ann Gallagher as the mother, perhaps an earlier wife of James McManaman, Sr.   


               As noted, James McManaman, Sr. died, quite possibly in The Valley in 1864, and Katherine was left to fend for herself and her family.  With the exception of Bridget, Katherine and her growing children, ranging in years from approximately 6 to 23 years, remained in The Valley for some time after Jaems’s death.  The story has been told about how they could look out across the valley from their home and see the home of the wealthy British landlord, and they cursed him as they hungered.  James' death in 1864 surely brought great hardship to the family, but they survived and the children began to marry and start their own families.  The foundation and two partial walls of the home remain. 


               b.               Land Wars and Free Migration to the USA.


               Because of the failure of the potato crop, millions had emigrated to the United States, Canada, and other parts of the globe.  For those that didn't leave County Mayo, however, unrest continued after the famine.  James and Katherine's children grew to adulthood in The Valley. 


               The decades following the famine had brought prosperity to most farmers in Ireland, with prices for their cash crops rising faster than that of the rent.  The pace of political and economic change had increased dramatically brining a live-stock based capitalist economy to the core of Mayo.  Free market reforms had made significant inroads even in Achill, but landlordism and its abuses prevented land from becoming a commodity that could be bought and sold, and that meant that rent prices were arbitrarily set rather than in accordance with price movements.  During that time, the eviction of large numbers of people from their farms and homes in the late 1870's and early 1880's, caused a great deal of political unrest, particularly in the West of Ireland. These evictions resulted from the tenants' inability to pay the outrageous rents (which were set arbitrarily and not by the free market assessment of what the land would produce as in America). 


               The economic crisis of 1877-80 was brought on by a confluence of bad weather, meager harvests and low prices that devastated the economies of farmers.  The rents, however, did not abate during the crisis, and became an intolerable burden for many, bringing into question the right to arbitrarily set rent rates in an era of free trade. 


               One example of early market forces and free trade rebellion came when a wealthy British officer named Boycott owned a substantial portion of Achill.  During the agrarian agitation he refused to abate the rent and allow farmers to grow crops for consumption.  The resulting uprising was characterized by the tacit agreement and outright refusal of the workers to till or work his land.  Hence, the origin of the word, "Boycott." Agitation only increased, however, particularly in the Western part of Mayo, and it spread rapidly south and east throughout Ireland. 


               The resulting "Land War" in Mayo pitted landowners against tenants and caused numerous strikes.  The people of Achill and West Mayo generally revolted, and the movement swelled to eventually gain over 200,000 members of the Land League, which became a major parliamentary force led by Charles Stewart Parnell.  The massive movement forced concessions in the form of legislation in 1881 which corrected some of the major abuses of landlordism by setting up land courts to arbitrate rent disputes, and by laying the foundation for the eventual transfer of the land to the working farmers by the Irish Free State government in 1921.  


               XIV. Early American Experience: Cleveland, Ohio and Lincoln, Nebraska


               Around the end of the Land War, in the early 1880's, many of the McManaman emigrants left Achill for America, possibly utilizing a program called “Free Emigration” that would have made the trip much more affordable.  Five of James and Katherine's children apparently came to America during the 1880's and early 1890's: Grace, Patrick, Michael, Honor and James.  Martin and Hugh, however, remained on Achill and raised families of their own.  Family members mostly came to Cleveland for a short time, and then moved west to Nebraska, settling first around Davey and Lincoln, where Bridget McManaman Morrissey lived after settling there years before. 


Bridget apparently was the first of the family member to come permanently to Nebraska, and probably the first to come to the United States.  The Davey, Nebraska Centenial Book from 1986 notes that the first Catholic Mass in Rockcreek Township, Lancaster County, was celebrated at the sod house of Tom Morrissey in 1870, making Bridget McManaman and Tom Morrissey some of the earliest settlers of the County. 


Bridget's younger siblings came over later.  Cleveland, Ohio has a large population of Achill immigrants, and the McManamans obviously had many close connections to that city.  Some (or perhaps all) originally stopped there, including Patrick who apparently worked there for three years before sending for his family.  Most, however, apparently came to the Rockcreeek/Davey/Lincoln, Nebraska area where Bridget and Tom Morrissey had been living for many years. 


               As far as we know, all of the children of Katherine English McManaman and James McManamana were married in Ireland save one.  Bridget, as noted, married Tom Morrissey, Grace married an unrelated Patrick McManaman, Patrick married Mary McGinty, Honor married Michael Haney, and James Jr. married Katherine Condon in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Michael married Anne LaVelle.  As noted, brothers Martin and Hugh remained on Achill, and were listed as still living in their brother James's obituary in 1928.  There are records of numerous marriages and baptisms in the church records, and most of their children apparently married and had children of their own before coming to the United States. 


Many family members came over in about 1883, perhaps as a result of the Mayo Land War that originated in Mayo and that consisted of intense agrarian agitation.  As noted, Free Emigration also was provided in 1883, and by 1885 many were in the Rock Creek area in Lancaster County, Nebraska.  Michael apparently was the last to emigrate in 1890 or so, settling, as did many of them, near the earlier members of the family in Davey, Nebraska.  His wife and children came in 1893. 


By 1900, a number of the siblings had moved to an area south of Lincoln in Lancaster County, including James, Jr., and Michael.  Others remained in the general vicinity north of Lincoln, and some lived in town, including the son of Grace who was a police officer. 


Katherine English McManaman's Lincoln, Nebraska obituary notes that she died in 1902 at the age of eighty-eight years of old age "at the home of her daughter [Grace], 1041 Vine Street.  She had but recently made her home here, coming from a farm north of the city [probably near Davey].  The funeral will be held Tuesday and burial will be at Davey. "  In fact, burial was in Lincoln, and her tombstone lists her age as 87 at death. 


               VX.                 Following the Railroad to Spalding, Greeley County, Nebraska


About the time that Katherine English McManaman died, the railroad was reaching toward the Spalding, Greeley County, Nebraska area.  Michael B. McManaman, Sr., her grandson, and perhaps other McManamans worked for the railroad as a teenager, and shortly after her death in 1902, many family groups made up of her children and grandchildren began to move to Spalding, where land was plentiful.  By 1904, the town was full of McManamans. 


It is no coincidence that to the south and east of Spalding was a town named Dublin, and that at one time the area hosted towns by the name of Belfast, O'Connor, and Parnell.  Spalding and the surrounding areas, including much of Greeley County, were part of an enclave of Irish Americans.  A Bishop Spalding had been instrumental in the Catholic Church's efforts to buy land and encourage the normally agrarian Irish to leave the big cities where they had settled upon arrival to the United States.  Approximately 30,000 acres had been purchased by that effort, and from Greeley County north into South Dakota, Irish towns were settled. 


               Over the next ten decades many McManamans remained in Spalding operating creameries, stores, and mostly farming.  Others, however, left Spalding after only a few years and returned to Lincoln or Cleveland, or moved on to Chicago, Wyoming, and the rest of the world. 


Bridget and Tom Morrissey had remained in Davey, and they moved to Omaha where she died in 1928.  Grace and Pat stayed in Davey for some time with her mother, Katherine, until moving into Lincoln shortly around the time of Katherine’s death.  Grace died in Lincoln in 1914.  Patrick and Mary (McGinty) stayed in Spalding and he died in 1922.  Honor and Michael Haney moved to Cleveland and she died in 1940.  James's wife, Catherine Condon, had died right after moving to Spalding in 1904, and he eventually moved to Cleveland where he died in 1928, although he is buried in Spalding where his children were.  Michael and Anne LaVelle lived in Spalding where he died in 1912.  It is not yet known when Martin and Hugh who stayed on Achill died. 

[i]               “Tir Conaill” is another spelling for Tirconell, Tyrconnell, or Donegal. 


[ii]              The Irish frequently use the term “sept” rather than clan.

[iii]             Niall of the Nine Hostages:


               The sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages, Eoghan, Conall [Gulban], and Enda, traveled north from the kingdom of Connacht into the western and northern regions of the kingdom of Ulster (county Donegal). It was here in the 5th century that the Cenél Eóghain and Cenél Conaill began to establish themselves as overlords in northwestern Ulster. The Cenél Eóghain established their power base at Inishowen and their capital at Aileach. The two septs alternated as kings of the North, as well as kings of Ireland, up to the 8th century


Cenél Conaill:

Conall Gulban was the son of Niall who established his kingdom in an area more or less congruent with the present baronies of Tir Hugh, Bannagh, Boylagh and Kilmacrenan. The Cenél Conaill, however, centered themselves around the rich area of Magh Ithe, in the valley of the river Finn.


Conall's sons included: Óengus Gunnat, Nath Í, Tigernach Duí, Énna Bóguine, Fergus Cennfota (or Taulán), and Eochu.  Some of the Septs or territories of the Cenél Conaill included those of Sil Lugdach (O'Donnell, O'Boyle, O'Doherty, ...) Cenel Bóguine, Tir Ainmireach & Tir Aedha (O'Cannon, O'Muldorey, O'Gallaghers, ...), and Cenel Duach, among others.


Sil Lugdach:


Sil Lugdach, of the Cenél Conaill and Clann Dálaigh. Lugaid was the son of Setna, and great-grandson of Conall Gulban, whose descendants were the sept of O'Domhnaill (O'Donnell), Kings of Tir Conaill until the 17th century ( See "Flight of the Earls", infra, main text). The O'Donnells, at first lived along the river Lennon but later established themselves in south Donegal. (The O'Boyles and the O'Dohertys were also of Sil Lugdach).


An early Sil Lugdach genealogy -- Cathbarr m. Gillai Críst m. Cathbairr m. Domnaill m. Éicnich m. Dálaich m. Muirchertaich m. Cind Fáelad m. Airnelaich m. Máel Dúin m. Cind Fáelad m. Gairb m. Rónáin m. Lugdach m. Sétnai mic Fergus m. Conaill Gulban m. Néill Noígiallaig.


In the 8th century a series of victories were gained by the Cenél Eóghain over the Cenél Conaill in Magh Ithe (east County Donegal), splitting their power between the territories of Fanad, in the north, and Tir nAeda, in the south. 


By the beginning of the 9th century the Cenél Eóghain were the dominant Northern dynasty, as they spread their influence east into modern county Derry and south into modern county Tyrone. In the 11th century the Cenél Eóghain moved their power base from Aileach to that near Tullahogue in modern day county Tyrone (named from Tir Eóghain, or Tir Owen). 


By the 12th century much of the area of Magh Ithe and that of Inishowen was taken by the O'Dohertys of Cenél Conaill. By the mid 13th century a leading family of the Cenél Eóghain, the Mac Lochlainn (McLoughlin), began to lose prominence to their kinsmen, the Ó Neill.


There are many notable northern Uí Neill Septs which included O'Neill, O'Donnell, MacLoughlin, O'Donnelly, O'Doherty, O'Cannon, O'Muldory, O'Kane, O'Gallagher, O'Gormley, O’Flaherty or O’Laverty, O'Hamill, O'Lunney, O'Carolan of Clan Diarmada, O'Quin, O'Hagan of Tullahogue, O'Devlin of Munterdevlin, among many others.



[iv]             Much of this section derives from, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill (Doubleday 1995). 


[v]                Patricius was a Romanized Catholic Briton, not an Englishman.  In his time, the island of Britain was peopled with Romanized Celts, whom we call Britons, and north of Emperor Hadrian’s Wall by the fierce un-Romanized Picts.  The Saxons, Angles, and Jutes were Germanic tribes harassing the southern and eastern shores of Britain at Patrick’s time.  Shortly thereafter they settled in Britain and pushed the Romanized Celts into Wales and Cornwall.  The Angles gave their name to the island, Angland, now England, and they were pagan until the 7th century.  Patrick would have been a proud Catholic citizen of the Roman Empire which still controlled the south of Britain.     


[vi]             St. Patrick is known as the first human being in history to speak out against slavery.


[vii]  Colmcille/Columba (521-597).

[viii]                The Life of Ciaran, of Cluain, (Monastery at Clonmacnoise) chapter 47 states that the Order of Colum Cille, was one of the eight monastic orders that were in Erin.  The lands surrounding and incorporating his first monastery were called Baile Meg-Robhartaigh. The river adjacent to his church at Doire was named River of Baile Meg-Robhartaigh. (Ballymagroarty). To this day a main town land in the city of Derry is registered as Ballymagroarty. 

[ix] As instructed by him, blood relations of Colum Cille, maintained and continued the work of their original founder at Doire in his absence. 


[x] Others had gone north, as Colum Cille had, while still others went northwest, like Brendan the Navigator who visited Iceland, Greenland, and North America. 


[xi] During this time the entire country came close to, but did not finally achieve, political unity, under the leadership of Brian Baru, who is attributed with having required the Irish to take surnames beginning about the year 1000 A.D.  


[xii] The Normans had not taken Tir Conaill, and from about 1333 onwards, the Anglo-Irish colony in Ireland began to decline, and eventually became restricted to the area around Dublin, (known as the Pale) and to the regions controlled by the Anglo-Irish barons of Kildare, Desmond and Ormond.  Richard II came to Ireland in 1394 and 1399, but factors such as the Hundred Years War with France, the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses, and the general economic decline in Europe, meant that England was unable to maintain an effective army in Ireland for over 150 years.


[xiii] The name Derry derives from the old Irish word Daire meaning an oak grove, particularly an oak grove on an island totally or partly surrounded by water or peat bog. Such was the case at Derry.


[xiv]           MacMeanman Entries in the Annals


Annals of Loch Ce 1303
Toirdhelghach, son of Domhnall Og O'Domhnaill, who was usually called "Toirdhelbhach of Conoc-in-Mhadhma," i.e. the king of Tir-Conaill during twelve years, both in it and out of it - a warlike, active man, and the Cuchullainn of the Clann-Dalaigh in valour - was slain by Aedh, the son of Domhnall Og, i.e. his own brother, after a long war, and after much destruction had been committed on all sides throughout the country, and a prodigious slaughter along with him of the Cenel-Eoghain, and the chiefs of the Foreigners of the North, and of the Cenel-Conaill themselves likewise, and Muirchertach Mac Fhlannchaidh, chieftain of Dartraighe.  Donn O'Cathain, king of FearaCraibhe and Cianachta, was slain there, and Donnchadh Mac Menmain and Aedh Mac Menmain - the two grandsons of the Ferleighinn O'Domhnaill; and Niall, son of Niall O'Baighill, the good material of a chieftain of the Three-Tuatha; Mac Ughossa and his son, and his brother, and Adam Sandal, and numerous Foreigners and Gaeidhel besides.  And Aedh O'Domhnaill resumed his own sovereignty after this great triumph, so that after a while his government was like a sea growing calm, a tide ebbing, and a high wind subsiding.
Annals of Clonmacnoise  1303
Terlaugh o'Donell, prince of Tyreconell, was killed by his own brother Hugh o'Donell with these ensuing men, vidzt. Mortagh Maglaghlen, Donell o'Cahan, Donogh m'Meannman, Hugh m'Meannman, sone of fferlegin o'Donell, Neale m'Donell o'Boyle, o'Heossye and his sone and his brother Addam, Adam Cendall, with many other English and Irishmen.
Annals of Ulster 1303
Toirdhelbach Ua Domnaill, king of Tir-Conaill and Muircertach Mag Flannchadha and Donn O'Cathain and Donnchadh Mac Menman and Aedh Mac Menman, [i.e. two grand-son[s] of the Lector Ua Domnaill and Niall, son of Niall Ua Buighill and Mac Ughosai and his son and his brother and Adam Sandal [and] many other Foreigners and Gaidhil in addition were killed by Aedh Ua Domnaill, [namely] by his (own) brother (that is, the chief of Muinnter-Feodachain).
1281 Annals of Ulster
The battle of Disert-da-crich was fought between Cenel-Conaill and Cenel-Eoghain, where fell Domnall Ua Domnaill (by Aedh Ua Neill the Tawny and by Mac Martain); namely, the man to whom were subject Fir-Manach and Ulidia, save a litle and all Fir-Breifne.  The one Gaidehl that was best of hospitality and principality; the guarantor of the West of Europe.  And he was buried in the Monastery of the Friars in Doire of St. Colum-cille after gaining  victory of every goodness.  And these were the best that were killed there: namely, Maelruaniagh O'Baighill, chief of 'the Three Territories' and Eogan, son of MailSechlainn Ua Domnaill and Cellach Ua Baighill, the one chief of his own time that was best of hospitality and bestowal and Gilla Mac Flannchadha, chief of Dartraighi and Domnall Mac Gille-Fhinnen, chief of Muinnter-Peodachain and Aindiles O'Baighill and Dubhghall, his son and Enna Ua Gairmleaghaidh, royal chief of the Cenel-Moein and Cormac, son of the Lector Ua Domnaill, chief of Fanat and Gilla-in-Choimdegh O'Maeladuin, king of Lurg and Carmac, son of Carmac Ua Domnaill and Gilla-na-noc Mac Calredocai and Mael-Sechlainn, son of Niall Ua Baighill and Aindiles, son of Muircertach Ua Domnaill and Maghnus Mac Cuinn and Gilla-na-naem O'Eochagain and Muircertach Ua Flaithbertaich and Muircertach Mac-in-Ulltaigh and Flaithbertach Mag Buidhechain and many other persons of the sons of kings and chiefs and of men-at-arms that are not reckoned here.
Note: These entries describe an O'Donnell named 'Fer Leginn' or 'the Lector' O'Donell who had two sons, Cormac and Menman, and two grandsons named Donogh and Hugh MacMenman. This is the only appearance of the surname MacMenman in the Annals of Ireland (1303).

[xv]             Mac Meanmain is used as an alternative to MacMeanman by some researchers. 


[xvi]                Donogh is an alternate.


[xvii]            Hugh is an alternate.   


[xviii]                O’Dohmnall is used as an alternative to O’Donnell by some researchers. 


[xix]     If true, the family tree would look like this at its earliest recorded stage.  
      Eicnich (first of the O’Donnell kings of Tir Connell)
      sl. 1208
               |                                                                            |            
               Domnaill Mor                                                      The Lector Ua   Domhnall                                                                                                                                   
              d. 1241                                                                                (Lector of Daire?)
              Chieftain of Fanad                                                                     |
    ____________|__________________________                        ____|______
    |                         |                |                      |          |                 |                    |
Mael seclain    Gofraidh   Domnall oge   Aedh   Oengus             Cormac    Menman             
1241-47          1248-58    1258-81            (both  lines extinct)          1288      1288

[xx]                History of the Diocese of Raphoe


               They succeeded in pressing him to accompany them to Raphoe, where he finally dismissed them with his blessing and his ultimatum, "Here shall I rest." Hugh Mac Bracken, Bishop of Kildare, in the County Westmeath, a companion hermit in Slieve League, ordered his body after death to be stretched alongside that of St. Assicus. We may assume that he was the first pastor constituted by St. Patrick to evangelize this vast and populous district, and that he is another of the six prelates; but who the remaining three are it is idle to conjecture.


               After Drumhome had been launched on its career of fame, it eclipsed all neighboring monasteries, but Raphoe long survived as a parochial church, and its cemetery continued to be resorted to long ages after. Eventually, however, only the bodies of un-baptized children were buried there.


               Colgan mentions the existence of an abbey here; but at the present day we can only discern the débris of a large church at the western limit of the extensive enclosure (or rather elevated tumulus, there being neither trench nor fence); and endless gravestones, mostly unchiselled; but here and there are polished slate and sandstone slap may be unearthed without serious excavated. The cemetery, as was usual, gradually extended over the ruins of the disused pile; but a very curious extract from Tiechan, published by Reeves in his Introduction to Adamnan, demonstrates at once the celebrity, wealth, and prolonged existence of this fifth-century foundation. Writing about 850, Tirechan informs us that the monks of St.Eugenius of Ardstrawmaintained a controversy with the Columban monks of Tirconaiil regarding the ownership of and jurisdiction over, this monastery. While the general import of the passage is transparently clear, the phraseology is most involved and puzzling: "Et sunt ossa ejus in Campo Seredhi Rathcungi; monachus Patritii sed contenderunt eun familia Comumbae-cille et faminia Ardstrath ." The bones Assicus are laid in Saredh's Plain at Racco; he was a monk of St.Patrick, but the brotherhood of Columba and the brotherhood of Ardstraw both claimed him (as belonged to their respective Orders)." * Saint Eugenius and Assicus belonged to the older order of St. Patrick, but the whole territory of Tirconaoill was regarded as belonging exclusively, with the great Columba. At all events, it is obvious that Raphoe enjoyed an enviable pre-eminence in the eyes of the monks of all the contemporary Orders.

* Reeves' Adamnan, IX.


[xxi]             Also referred to as “Fear Leighinn”  or “Fer O’Donnell.”  “Fear” and “Fer” mean Lector. 


[xxii]     Extracts from the Papal Registers (Papal Letters):
               With their references to “MacMeanman O”Donnell’s” these entries from the Papal Letters acknowledge that the MacMeanman’s of Donegal were a branch of the O'Donnells.  The name is rendered MacMeanman, O'Donnell, but more commonly, MacMeanman O'Donnell, the last usage establishing the family as a branch of the O'Donnell Kings of Tirconnell.
               The usage and spelling of the MacMeanman O’Donnell surname in the Papal Letters is not obvious.  The MacMeanman prelates of Raphoe are generally described as "ydomhnaill;" the'Y" being simply a form of  Ui or Ua, which is anglicised "O" in surnames, so ydhomhnaill = O'Donnell.  Spellings of MacMeanman O’Donnell include:
Eugenius Odhomhnaille
Eugenius Mahemeheanman (Deanery of Derry, 1407; Bishop of Connor, 1421-1429; Bishop of Derry, 1429-1433;
died before Sept. 1433). 
               Also, while the titles of bishop and priest are well known today, the terms “clerk,” “prelate,” and “canon”
also signify Holy Orders:
               “Clerk” referred to a member of the clergy at the time:  Cleric, clerk, and clark all come from Latin clricus, “a man in a religious order, a man in holy orders.” Cleric appears in Old English about 975 and lasts into the 13th century. Clerc appears in late Old English, around 1129, and was identical in spelling and pronunciation with Old French clerc, “belonging to the (Christian) clergy.” In the Middle Ages the clergy were the only literate class and were often employed as scribes, secretaries, or notaries. By about 1200 clerc had acquired the meaning “pupil, scholar,” as we see in Chaucer's “clerk of Oxenford” in The Canterbury Tales (around 1386). Clerks were also of necessity employed in keeping accounts and recording business transactions; this is the source of the modern sense of clerk. By the early 17th century, the word clerk had become completely ambiguous; it could refer equally to a clergyman or to an accountant. For this reason cleric (spelled Clericke and with its modern pronunciation) was introduced or reintroduced from Latin or Greek as both a noun and an adjective to refer specifically to a
member of the clergy. The pronunciation (klärk), spelled clark and clerk, arose in the south of England during the 15th century and is today the Received Pronunciation of clerk in the United Kingdom. The modern American pronunciation (klûrk) more closely represents the older pronunciation. The pronunciation (klärk) is used in the United States only in the proper name Clark. The south England sound change responsible for the pronunciation (klärk) also gave rise to parson (beside person), varsity (beside university), and even varmint (beside vermin).  The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition 

Additionally, the term “canon” is defined as:  can·on2   Pronunciation Key  (knn)  n.  1.  A member of a chapter of priests serving in a cathedral or collegiate church.  2. A member of certain religious communities living under a common rule and bound by vows. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.


And a prelate is defined:  prel·ate   Pronunciation Key  (prlt) n.  A high-ranking member of the clergy, especially a bishop.  The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.

1397 A.D.
9 Kal. March
St. Peter's,
Provision to John Macmemnan, a Cistercian monk of Assaroe in priest's orders, of the see of Raphoe, void by the cession of bishop Cornelius, made at the apostolic see through the said John, his proctor, to Francis, cardinal priest of St. Susanna's, and thereby reserved to the pope, in accordance with the reservation which the pope had lately made of provisions of all cathedral churches and monasteries which should become void at the said see.
1397 A.D.
5 Kal. Feb.
St. Peter's,
To John Macmemnan, Cistercian monk of Assaroe, in the diocese of Raphoe.  Dispensation to him - who has already had papal dispensation on account of illegitimacy as the son of an unmarried man and an unmarried woman to hold benefices and an administration and offices accustomed to be served by monks of his order - to hold all dignities, even if archiepiscopal or episcopal and elective, personatus and offices.  His illegitimacy need not be mentioned in future graces.
1407 A.D.
7 Id. Nov.
To the archbishop of Armagh, the bishop of Veszprem and the archdeacon of Armagh. Mandate to collate and assign to Eugenius Macuicamiranydhomhnaill, canon of Raphoe, who is, he says, of noble birth, and a scholar in canon and civil law, the deanery of Derry, value not exceeding 30 marks, void and reserved under John XXII's constitution Execrabilis, because the late William Mackathmayl, holding the rectory with cure of Furnay in the diocese of Derry, obtained and held therewith for a month and more without dispensation the said deanery, an elective major dignity with cure; notwithstanding that Eugenius has been admitted by authority of the ordinary as a canon of Raphoe.
1409 A.D.
13 Kal. Aug.
To the archbishop of Pisa, the bishop of Raphoe and Dermit Ocoyneyl, canon of Killala.  Mandate to collate and assign to Eugenius Macmeamnanydomnaill, canon of Raphoe, the deanery of Derry, a major elective dignity with cure, value not exceeding 40 marks, void and reserved to the pope under the constituion Execrabilis, because Donald Macgillibridi
obtained and held it for a month and more with his rectory of Theachbuichin in the diocese of Raphoe; notwithstanding that Eugenius has lately been received by authority of the ordinary as a canon of Raphoe.
1419 A.D.
5 Id. June
To the bishop of Raphoe.  Mandate to collate and assign to Maurice
Macmeanmanydhomhnaill, clerk, of the diocese of Derry, the rectory of Fathynmure in that diocese, value not exceeding 7 marks, void by the death of Roger Odubhgayll.
1419 A.D.
16 Kal. June
To the bishop of Oloron, Maurice Macblosgaidh, canon of Derry, and Eugenius Macmeanmen, canon of Raphoe....
1419 A.D.
16 Kal. July
To the bishop of Oloron, Eugenius Macmeanmanydhomhnaill, canon, and the official of Raphoe....
1421 A.D.
3 Non. May
St. Peter's,
To Eugenius Odhomhnaille, elect of Connor.  Provision to him, canon of Raphoe, subdeacon, of the see of Connor, void by the death of John, during whose life it was specially reserved by the present pope.
1421 A.D.
18 Kal. Feb.
St. Peter's, 
To Eugenius Mahemeheanman, canon of Raphoe.....
1422 A.D.
2 Kal. July
S. Maria
To the bishop of Alet, and Eugenius Odomhnaill and Maruice Macbloscayth, canon of Achonry.....
1423 A.D.
2 Non. Jan.
St. Peter's,
To the bishop of Alet, the archdeacon of Derry, and Eugenius Odomnayll, canon of Raphoe.  Mandate to collate and assign to Solomon Odubanaych, clerk, of the diocese of Derry (who lately received papal dispensation, as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, to be promoted etc. as above, the rectory of St. Eugenius's, Ardsracha, in the said diocese, value not exceeding 8 marks, void by the death of Ysag Oculean.
1423 A.D.
3 Non. Aug.
S. Maria
To the bishop of Connor.  Mandate to collate and assign to Cornelius Macmeamnan Ydompnayll, canon of Raphoe (who is in or about his twenty-fourth year, and who lately received papal dispensation, as the son of a priest, a Cistercian monk, and an unmarried woman, to be promoted to all, even holy orders and hold a benefice even with cure, after which he had himself made a clerk, and was received as a canon of Raphoe), the rectory of  the parish church of Raith Bruaich alias Raitha Maihienaih in the diocese of Raphoe, value not exceeding 12 marks, void by the death of Clement Ifarghil.  He has hereby the necessary dispensation.
1424 A.D.
4 Non. July
To the bishops of Frigento and Raphoe, and Magonius Odomnayll, canon of Raphoe.  Mandate to collate and assign to Bernard Macolgan, clerk, of the diocese of Derry, the perpetual vicarage, value not exceeding 10 marks, of St. Eugenius's, Ardsracha, in the said diocese, void by the death of John Odubanaych.  
1429 A.D.
11 Kal. May
SS. Apostoli,
To Donald Macmenman Ydhomhnaill, canon of Raphoe.  Mandate to collate and assign to Malachy Ogallenbare, clerk, of the diocese of Raphoe (who lately received dispensation by authority of the ordinary, as the son of an unmarried man and an unmarried woman, related in the third and fourth degrees of kindred and the third and third degrees of affinity, to be promoted to minor orders and hold a benefice without cure) the rectory of Cluayn Dabuadog in the said diocese, value not exceeding 12 marks, void because Maurice MacCarmayc Ydomnaill, sometime abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Assaroe (Sameria) in the said diocese, having been promoted by the said authority, when holding the said rectory, to be abbot of the said monastery, obtained possession of the administration etc. of the goods of the said abbey, or at least of the greater part thereof.  Malachy is hereby dispensed to be promoted to all, even holy orders and hold the said rectory.  
1429 A.D.
5 Id. June
SS. Apostoli,
To the bishop of Raphoe, and Donald Macmeanmanydomnayll and Matthew Macdalayth alias Macdeccanayd, canons of Raphoe.  Mandate-Cornelius Magungail, priest, of the diocese of Raphoe, having informed the pope that Odo Ochonmail, rector of Kalkachday in the said diocese has committed perjury and simony etc. and has neglected to celebrate and cause to be celebrated divine offices in the said church- if Cornelius will accuse Odo before them, to summon Odo and others concerned, and if they find the facts to be as stated, to deprive Odo, and in that event to collate and assign the said rectory, value not exceeding 6 marks, to Cornelius.
1429 A.D.
15 Kal. July
SS. Apostoli,
To the archdeacon, and Matthew Macdalaidh and Donald Macmaenmanodhonehnayll, canons of Raphoe.  Mandate to collate and assign to Roderick Odochartaigh, priest, of the diocese of Raphoe, who lately received papal dispensation, as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, to be promoted etc. as above, f. 141d., the rectory of Fathainmure in the diocese of Derry, value not exceeding 10 marks, void by the death of Roger Odubhghaill, summoning and removing the Augustinian abbot and convent of Sella Nigra in the said diocese, who have unduly detained possession for more than four years, but less than five, whom Roderick cannot sagely meet within the city or diocese of Derry; whether it bevoid as
stated, or by the resignation of Maurcie Macheromheanmanidhonehnaill, or by the deprivation of the same Maurice by authority of the ordinary, or in any other way. 
1429 A.D. 
7 Kal. Aug.
To Maurice MacMeanman Idhomhnaill.  Collation and provision to him, who is a priest and is by both parents of noble race, of the archdeaconry of Connor, a major elective dignity with cure, value not exceeding 12 marks, void and reserved by the death at the apostolic see of do Akailti (sic); notwithstanding that he was lately received by authority of the ordinary as a
canon of Raphoe. 
1429 A.D.
4 Id. March
SS. Apostoli,
To the abbot of Assaroe (Sameria) in the diocese of Raphoe.  Mandate to collate and assign to Donald Macmenman Ydomnaill, canon of Raphoe, who lately received papal dispensation, as the son of an unmarried man and an unmarried woman, to be promoted etc. as above, f. 141d, the rectory of Cluayndocorach in the diocese of Raphoe, value not exceeding 10 marks, void and reserved because Eneas icgillabridi, who is to be removed, when holding the arch-deaconry of Raphoe, a non-major dignity, obtained the said rectory and held it and the said archdeaconry together for six years, against Execrabilis; notwithstanding that Donald has been received by authority of the ordinary as a canon of Raphoe. 
1429 A.D.
3 Kal. Dec.
Ss. Apostoli,
To the archdeacon and Donald Macmenman Idhominaill and Davidh Obindhi, canons, of Raphoe.  Mandate to collate and assign to Cornelius Magunguil, priest, of the diocese of Raphoe, the perpetual vicargae, value not exceeding 3 marks, of Cellabega in the said diocese, void and reserved by the death at the apostolic see of Cathal (Kartholus) Ogleandan; summoning and removing Critin Macneda Odubenaidh, priest, of the said diocese, who under pretext of a collation made to him by the ordinary after the said voidance has unduly detained possession for more than two years; notwithstanding that the pope lately ordered provision to be made to Cornelius of the rectory of Cillachday in the same diocese, value not exceeding 6 marks, of which he has not got possession.  He is hereby dispensed to hold both for life.
1429 A.D.
4 Id. Dec.
SS. Apostoli,
To Donald, bishop of Connor.  Translation to the said see from that of Derry, to which the pope has this day translated bishop Eugneius from Connor.  Before taking possession of the administration of Connor, he is to take to the archbishop of Armagh and the bishop of Meath the usual oath of fealty to the pope. 
Note:  This is Eugenius, or Eoghan, or Owen MacMeamman O'Donnell.
1429 A.D.
5 Id. Dec.
SS. Apostoli,
To Eugenius, bishop of Derry.  Translation from Connor, whither the pope has this day translated Donald from Derry.  Before taking possession he is to take to the archbishop of Armagh and the bishop of Meath the usual oath of fealty to the pope.  
1430 A.D.
13 Kal. March
SS. Apostoli,
To John Fossard, bachelor of canon law.  Collation and provision to him, a priest, of noble race and lawful birth, of the archdeaconry of Connor, a   major dignity with cure, value not exceeding 12 marks, provision of which the pope made to the late Maurice Macmeanmam Idhomhnail on its becoming void and reserved by the death at the apostolic see of Odo
Okeala, and which had become void and again reserved by the death, also at the apostolic see, of the said Maurice without having had possession;
1432 A.D.
7 Id. April
St. Peter's,
To the prior of St. Mary's, Dungemin, in the diocese of Derry, and Nemeas Ohenrachtaich and Donald Oceallachan, canons of Clogher and Armagh.  Mandate, if they find that it was lawful, to admit for this time only the resignation mentioned below, and to collate and assign to Dermit Machlosgaid, canon of Derry - who has for several years in the university of Oxford and in other studia particularia studied canon law, and who was lately dispensed by papal authority, as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, according to some, as the son of a priest and a married woman, according to others, (i) to be promoted etc., as above, to receive and hold, in the vent of their being collated to him in virtue of a papal mandate of provision which had been made in his favour, the perpetual vicarage of Nuatmail alias Nuadmail Kannid and the rectory of Drumgoasa sive Ros alias the comorbanship of St. Kannicius, in the diocese of Derry, which rectory has under it three churches, of whose fruits the rector of Drumgoasa has been wont to receive two parts, and the perpetual vicar one part, and which rectory is called by some a plebanatus or dignity or personatus - the deanery of Derry, a major elective dignity with cure, value not exceeding 48 marks, which Eugenius Macmenmun Ydomnaill, clerk, of the diocese of Derry, resigned in the Roman court....
1432 A.D.
11 Kal. Jan.
St. Peter's,
To the dean and the archdeacon and Cornelius Macmenman  Ydomhnaill, canon, of Raphoe.....
1432 A.D.
2 Non. June
St. Peter's,
To the archdeacon of Derry.  Mandate - the pope having been informed by Donald Macmeanman Ydomhnaill, rector of Cluaindacorcach in the diocese of Raphoe, that Cornelius Magillabrighdi, priest, and Nicholas Magmallgusa, clerk, of the said diocese, both claiming a right in the deanery of Raphoe, simoniacally agreed that Cornelius should hold it and that Nicholas should receive from him yearly a part of the fruits - seeing that Donald, on account of Cornelius's power, has no hope of obtaining justice in the city or diocese of Raphoe, if Donald will accuse Cornelius before him, to summon Corneliuis and others concerned, and if he find the facts to be
as stated, to deprive Cornelius, and in that event to collate and assign the said deanery, a major dignity, value not exceeding 40 marks, to Donald, if found fit, who is a priest and who was lately dispensed by papal authority, as the son of a priest, professed of the Cistercian order, and an unmarried woman, related in the fourth degree of kindred, to by promoted to all, even holy orders and hold a benefice even with cure, and who was thereafter received by authority of the ordinary as a canon of Raphoe; notwithstanding that he holds the said rectory.  He is hereby specially dispensed, on account of the said defect, to hold the said deanery, on obtaining which he is to resign the rectory.
1432 A.D.      
5 Kal. Dec.
St. Peter's,
To the abbot of Assaroe (de Sameria) in the diocese of Raphoe, and the archdeacon and Cornelius Macmeanmanydomhnaill, canon, of Raphoe....
1432 A.D.
5 Kal. Dec.
St. Peter's,
To the bishop of Derry, the archdeacon of Raphoe, and the official of Derry.  
Mandate to collate and assign to William Macgillabridi, clerk, of the diocese of Raphoe (who without mention of his illegitimacy, as the son of an unmarried man and an unmarried woman, has had himself made a clerk), the rectory of Cluyayndachorchach in the said diocese, value not exceeding 9 marks, so long void by the death of Andrew Omurigaid that its collation lapsed to the apostolic see, summoning and removing Donald Macmenman Ydomhnayll, priest, of the said diocese, who has unduly detained possession for more than four years under pretext of a collation made by authority of the ordinary after the said lapse.  William is hereby dispensed on account of the said defect to act as a clerk, be promoted to all, even holy orders, and hold the said rectory.
1438 A.D.
12 Kal. Dec.
To Laurence Ogallcur and Cornelius Macmenman Idomnaill, canons, and the official, of Raphoe.....
1461 A.D.
3 Id. Oct.     
St. Peter's,
To the abbot of St. Columba's Celle nigre, Derry, the prior of Dungemyn in the diocese of Derry and Henry Omuriessan, a canon of Derry.  Mandate (the pope having been informed by Bernard Macmenman alias Odomnayll, clerk, of the diocese of Raphoe, that Thomas Orodayh, rector of the parish church of Teacbuyn in the said diocese, when litigating in those parts with Donald Obuy, priest, of the said diocese, about the said rectory before certain executors appointed by the apostolic see, paid to them the sum of 8 marks sterling in order that they might adjudge the rectory to him, and also promised to give and pay to the said Donald for without any authority of the said see, a certain sum upon the fruits of the rectory, in order that he might acquiesce in such pretence, thereby committing simony and incurring the sentences etc. promulgated against simoniacs, and that moreover, an open and notorious fornicator, he has kept openly in his house a certain concubine by whom he has begotten offspring still living, and that he has committed perjury, to the shame of the clerical order) if and after Bernard, who was lately made a clerk, notwithstanding his illegitimacy as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, accuses Thomas, who is a priest, and from fear of whose power Bernard has no hope of obtaining justice in the city and diocese of Raphoe, before the above three, to summon
Thomas and others concerned, and if they find the foregoing to be true, or one of them enough for the purpose, to deprive and remove Thomas, and in that event to collate and assign the said rectory, value not exceeding 12 marks to Bernard, whom the pope hereby dispenses to be promoted to all even holy orders and receive and retain it, notwithstanding the said defect etc., and to resign it, simply or for exchange, when he pleases.
1469 A.D.
Prid. Id. Dec.
St. Peter's,
To the abbot of St. Mary's, Macosquin (de Claro fonte), in the diocese of Derry, and Donald Oaweruollan and Cornelius Oqweruollan, canons of Derry.  Mandate, as below.   The pope has been informed by Eugenius MacMemnan alias Odomhuaill, clerk, of the diocese of Raphoe.....
1469 A.D.
14 Kal. Dec.
St. Peter's,
To the official of Raphoe.  Mandate, as below.  The pope has been informed by Donatus Odochartaich, canon of Derry, that Bernard Odomphnaill alias Meameamnan (recte Mecmeamnan, i.e., Macmeamnan), rector of the parish church of Theachbiuthin in the diocese of Raphoe, is an open and notorious fornicator and has dilapidated and converted to his evil uses the goods of the said church, and is defamed of several other excesses and crimes, and also of not residing in nor serving the said church.  The recent
petition, moreover, of the said Donatus contained that if the said church were erected into a prebend of Raphoe it would be to the increase of divine worship therein.  The pope therefore orders the above official, if the said Donatus (who is a priest, and has been received by authority of the ordinary as a canon of Derry) will accuse the said Bernard before the said official, to summon Bernard and the chapter of Raphoe and others concerned, and if he find the foregoing to be true, to deprive and remove Bernard, and in that event to erect, in accordance with the petition of the said Donatus, the said church, value not exceeding 11 marks sterling, into a prebend of Raphoe for his lifetime only, and to collate and assign to him a canonry of that church and such prebend.  The pope's will is that the cure of souls in the said church, which is exercised by a perpetual vicar, shall not be neglected, and that on the death or resignation of Donatus the said church shall return to
its former condition.
1482 A.D.
18 Kal. Dec
St. Peter's,
To John Ofaelan, a canon of Ferns.  Mandate to collate and assign to Bernard Macmeanman Ydohnmayll, priest, of the diocese of Raphoe, (who was lately dispensed by papal authority on account of illegitimacy, as the son of a priest and an unmarried woman, to be promoted to all, even holy orders and receive and retain a benefice even with cure, and to resign it, as often as he pleased, after which, having been so promoted, he obtained by canonical collation the rectory of the parish church called [the church] of the house of St. Bohynus in the said diocese, which he has resigned), the perpetual vicarage of the parish church called [the church] de Sustinentia in the said diocese, value 10 marks sterling, void at the apostolic see by the death there of Donald Ochahan, and therefore ipso facto reserved to the pope. 


[xxiii] The Celtic Christian Church that arose in Ireland roughly between 400 and 700 A.D. carried many indigenous values and practices as a result of a lack of close contact with Rome.  Even after the Christian church in Ireland came more closely under the direction of Rome, it still retained many of the old ways, requiring and receiving dispensation of this sort for its clergy.  It was apparently not scandalous.  The Catholic Church's position on celibacy of clergy is that of a discipline, not dogma.  Consequently, even today there are Orthodox Rites that have re-established relations with Rome, and under certain circumstances they are allowed, as an exception, to keep their traditional laws allowing priests to be married and have families.  Similarly, Anglican priests with families have been allowed to convert and be ordained in the Latin Church.


[xxiv]  The leader of the O'Neill Family, Hugh O’Neill, was educated in England, and was  originally a loyal subject of Queen Elizabeth I, being made Earl of Tyrone in 1585.  By contrast, relations between Elizabeth and the O’Donnells faltered to the point where, in 1587, a few weeks before his fifteenth birthday, Red Hugh O’Donnell was captured and taken to Dublin Castle.  There, he was held hostage to ensure the good behavior of his father, chief of the powerful O’Donnell clan.  One freezing winter’s night the chance came at last and he escaped from Dublin Castle in 1592 having spent almost four years as a captive of the English.  His cousin, Hugh Maguire harbored him in Fermanagh, an act of rebellion in itself, and when young O’Donnell reached his homeland, the preamble to the Nine Years War (1594-1603) began.  Soon afterwards Maguire expelled the English Sheriff, Captain Willis, and proceeded to raid the province of Connacht.  Around Ireland similar acts occurred and the final battle for Gaelic supremacy in Ireland began.


[xxv] The Royal Irish Academy in Dublin had the aprropriate Fiant. (Fiant Litterae patentes, "Let Letters Patent be Made"). The Librarian graciously agreed to go through the 40-50 pages, looking for McManaman references. Here is what she found and sent to researcher Bob Collins: 
The Seventeenth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records in Ireland, 10 March, 1885, Fiants - Elizabeth, 1600-1, #6483. (5199.) Pardon to Neyle garrowe O'Donell, chief of his name, Hugh buoye O Donell, Donell O Donell, , and Conn oge O Donell, brothers of said Neile garrowe O Donell, Cafferie oge m'Cafferie O'Donell, Hector O'Donell, son of said Neyle, Cafferie m'Hugh boye O Donell, Hugh boye m'Shane oge, Dwolte M'Gilliduffe, Neyle merga M'Degana, Cormack M'Degana, Donell m'Donough oge O Galcour, Shane croine O Dowgan, Hugh O Dowgan, cormack O Dowgan, Connor m'Donill O Galcour, Tyrlowe merga O Galcour, Manus oge m'Hugh boy, Rowry m'Hugh boye, Cormack carrough M'Phellymye, Neyle M'Phadorrough, Cahir M'Phadorroughe, gilloufe O Feye, Donnogh mowe O Galcour, Donnough MGilleglasse, Arte M'Gilleglasse, Shane m'Hugh boye, James O Skanlan, shane O Skanlan, Hugh boye O Furie, Edm. O Furie, Manus oge O Furie, Rowrie ballaugh m'Connor oge, Toole ballaugh O Galcour, Edm. go! rme m'Donnell oge, Hugh boye m'Eamon gorme, Tomelyn m'Eamon gorme, Donell O Quynn, Donill m'Carmack, Tirlowe oge M'Owen, Donill oge M'Owen, Rowryeballaugh m'Leole boye, Neyle Murrye m'Owen grome, Donill O Skanlan, Brian coggough O Skanlan, Brian O Farran, Dermot M'Cloyskey, Wm. O Rogan, Patr. O Rogan, Owen O Rogan, Pheyllim O Farran, connor M'Carmack, Pheyllym M'Carmack, Donill O Feye, Mannema M'Gilleworry, Hugh O Carralan, Wm. O Carralan, Wm. O Pettane, Tirlowe O Pettane, Manus O Pettane, Connor O Mulloye, Hugh boye m'Neyle madder, Arte O Sheyle, Brian O Sheyle, Owen O Sheyle, Manus O Sheyle, Owen O Lappan, Neyce bane M'Manaman, Edm. garrowe M'Carmack, Donill m'Hugh Skallan, Mannema M'Carmack, Donill M'Carmack, Brian M'Gwire, Connor O Feye, Tirlowe O Feye, Owen M'Wm. O Dowgan, Cahir m'Donell m'Donnough oge O Galcour, , Rich. M'Martin, Shane m'Hugh Skanlan, and Fardorrough O Gormogan. ("According to a list made by Capt. Willeys.") - 20 March, xliii. (Cal P.R., p584.) 

[xxvi] In 1588 the Spanish Armada foundered off the Western Irish coast.  Twenty-five ships wrecked, and survivors were aided in Connacht and Ulster but put to death elsewhere.


[xxvii] King James granted the castle to an English subject, Sir Basil Brooke, who rebuilt it.


[xxviii] The Annals of the Four Masters describe the migration.

"Maguire (Cúchonnacht Óg) and Donough, the son of Mahon, son of the Bishop O'Brien, brought a ship with them to Ireland, and put in at the harbour of Swilly. They took with them from Ireland the Earl O'Neill (Hugh, the son of Ferdorcha), and the Earl O'Donnell (Rory, the son of Hugh, son of Manus), with a great number of the chieftains of the province of Ulster…. They entered the ship on the festival of the Holy Cross, in autumn. This was a distinguished crew for one ship; for it is indeed certain that the sea had not supported, and the winds had not wafted from Ireland, in modern times, a party of one ship who would have been more illustrious or noble, in point of genealogy, or more renowned for deeds, valour, prowess, or high achievements, than they, if God had permitted them to remain in their patrimonies until their children should have reached the age of manhood…."


[xxix] For an elaborate description of the dramatic battles and politics surrounding this conquest, as well as the fate of the "Wild Geese" O'Donnell Tir Chonaill kings, see the O'Donnell Clan Association website.  Despite the attack on Living heirs to the O’Donnell throne have been determined to this day.  The Wild Geese Today website also offers substantial information on other "Wild Geese" of Ireland.


[xxx] O'Donovan's Ordinance Survey Letters from Donegal: Letter from Ballybofea: 
“Yesterday being a beautiful day for traveling, we directed out course westwards along the southern bank of the black rolling Finn, and after a journey of five miles we found ourselves in the romantic Gleann Finne in the very heart of a purely Irish country. We entered a Chapel Yard and soon found ourselves surrounded by a crowd of the old and long headed natives of Glen Fin - the remnant of the men of Moy-Iha (Magh Ith), who were driven to the mountains by the dominant party of James I. [James I became King of England in 1602 - just following the Elizabethan Fiant mentioning the MacMeanmans. This confirms the local tradition that the MacMeanmans were driven into the bogs and the mountains in the Finn valley] 
 The following Irish family names are yet found in Glenfinn, they are generally of the Kinel Owen race, but some of them are strange to me. 
 Harkin - O'Herrcind 
 Murry - O'Mearlaoich 
 Divenny - a famous ecclesiastical family.   
 Marly - O'Mearlaoich 
 Mac Menamon - Mac Meanmann - all bright fellows 
. . . 

[xxxi]  It was at this time that the name "Tir Conaill" was changed to "Donegal" by decree of the colonial government in Dublin.  The loss of the indigenous government also meant the loss of schools, resulting in the subsequent illiteracy of most Irish. 

[xxxii] The City of London Companies received all the lands between the Foyle and the Bann rivers.  They undertook to build up the towns of Coleraine and Derry (renamed Londonderry) and to spend 20,000 pounds in developing their grant.  At the same time, two more counties of Ulster, Antrim and Down, were settled, mainly by people from Scotland. The Ulster settlement was the most successful of the plantations. Its success helped to give the area the Protestant character it has today.


[xxxiii] Rev. Sean Noone, Where The Sun Sets: Ballycroy, Belmullet, Kilcommon & Kiltane County Mayo, Erris Publications, Ballina County Mayo, Ireland, p. 19 (1991).  
[xxxiv] These colonists were led by O'Donnell and included families such as the McSweeneys, O'Clerys, O'Gallagher, Conways, McManamins, O'Friels, Mc Gintys, O'Cathains, Cafferkeys , Campbells, Murrays , O'Boyles, Maguires, Corrigans, McGowans, etc. In 1838 their descendants spoke a northern dialect of Irish and were known to their neighbours as Ultaigh or Ulstermen. They reckoned their arrival in Ballycroy by the number of generations which had elapsed as in the following recorded extracts in the year 1838 from which the first named in each case. For example, by 1838, the O’Donnells in the area recited their history as:  Richard O'Donnell, son of Niall Begg, son of Niall Garbh, son of Hugh Mor, son of Manus (killed at Benburb battle ) son of Rory, who led the migration to Ballycroy on or about the year 1654. 
[xxxv] Rev. Sean Noone, Where The Sun Sets: Ballycroy, Belmullet, Kilcommon & Kiltane County Mayo.     
[xxxvi] Knight, Erris, p. 43 (1831) (also quoted in part by Rev. Noone, supra).   
[xxxvii] O’Donovan, Letters Containing information relative to the Antiquities of the County of Donegal Collected during the progress of the Ordnance Survey in 1835.  
O’Donovan writes that the parish of Kilcommon is divided into four districts viz.,- 
 (1) Dunkeeghan (Dumha Caochain) to the north 
 (2) Gelnamoy (Gleann na Muaidh) to the northeast 
 (3) Ballymonelly (Baile Ui Mhonaoile) to the east 
 (4) Ballycroy (Baile Cruaiche) to the south 
   The two latter districts were colonized by tribes from Tirconnell about two centuries ago.  Ballymonelly was colonized by a tribe of the Dohertys who came hither as tradition say, under the conduct of Monaoile O'Doherty from whom they have been named O'Meneelys, and Ballycroy by several families from the same country who settled under O'Donnell. The principal surnames among these are Mac Sweeny, O'Clery, O'Gallagher, Conway,  Mac Menamou and O'Friel.  These still speak the Ultonian dialect of the Irish and are called by their neighbours na h-Ultaigh, i.e., the Ulstermen. 
   O'Donovn then presents a pedigree in descent from Neal garve O'Donnell, of  Castlefinn in 1601: 
 Nial garve O'Donnell 
 Col. Manus 
 Rory O'Donnell, the first who removed to Ballycroy. 
 Col. Manus O'Donnell, killed in 1736 
   This material pretty well confirms that the McManamans moved to Mayo in 1654 with Rory O'Donnell, grandson of Nial garve O'Donnell, with whom a McManaman had been pardoned in 1601.
[xxxviii] Rev. Sean Noone, Where The Sun Sets: Ballycroy, Belmullet, Kilcommon & Kiltane County Mayo, Erris Publications, Ballina County Mayo, Ireland, p. 41 (1991).